This is really important: It’s not necessary to use any tools during a ghost hunt. In fact, when you’re starting out, it’s best to develop your five (or six) senses, to detect what’s going on around you.
Yes, in an earlier lesson, I recommended carrying some symbol of spiritual protection or comfort, but even that is optional. Start with haunts that are popular and well-visited, and you’re unlikely to be at risk.
Instead of carrying a protective talisman, many people spiritually shield themselves before entering a haunted site. You could say a prayer. You might envision yourself protected by a pink bubble of loving energy, or shielded by a vivid blue light shining down from the heavens above.
Use as much — or as little — spiritual protection as seems right and comfortable for you. As I said, if you’re investigating popular sites that are visited often, you’re unlikely to encounter anything truly dangerous.
During your first two or three ghost hunts, whether or not you use any tools, spend most of your time observing.
Look for just two things.
First, notice what’s going on around you.
Listen for odd noises (or odd silences). Watch for strange lights, shadows or figures, especially in dark corners and reflective surfaces.
(Mirrors, window panes, and shiny surfaces can sometimes reflect ghostly images.)
All of your senses should be on alert.
Some people hear ghosts, some people see them, some people can feel them (breath on their faces, necks, arms).
Other people feel changes in movement; the “wading through molasses” feeling at NH’s Gilson Road cemetery is an example.
Then, notice how you feel.
Are you energized and excited, or a little drained of energy, or both… or neither?
Are your emotions significantly different from you felt that morning, or before you arrived at the site? (This is when your baseline checks are important.)
Those observations are the core of ghost hunting. Tools such as cameras, EMF meters, voice recorders, etc., only confirm that something odd is going on at haunted sites.
Of course, many investigators rely on ghost hunting tools. They can serve more than one purpose.
Tools can be a source of comfort.
If you decide ghost hunting is worth pursuing, at least as a hobby, you’ll probably use a camera, voice recorder, EMF detector, or other tools for your research.
It’s thrilling when an EMF spike occurs seconds after you felt a chill. If a photo displays a strange shadow where people often see a ghostly figure, that can seem like a victory.
Those kinds of things confirm what you sensed, personally.
However, it’s important to maintain control over your tools.
Don’t let tools take control of the investigation.
Use your ghost hunting tools. Don’t let them consume so much of your attention that you miss seeing a “shadow person.” (Often, they’re fleeting.) Also avoid being so preoccupied that you overlook a physical hazard like an opening in an attic floor.
I understand the stress of ghost hunting.
At a haunted site, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Paranormal activity is something that you can’t explain, can’t really identify, and can’t control. As a beginning ghost hunter, it’s normal to feel frightened and vulnerable.
So, the security of a device you can focus on (and control) can be a comforting escape, for a moment. It’s a temporary break when things get weird.
The effect is similar when your camera that stops working, your phone abruptly loses all bars, or your EMF meter indicates energy spikes for no apparent reason. They demand our attention for a few minutes, and that’s okay… as long as it’s just for a few minutes.
Be prepared for that. At some point in your first dozen investigations, that will happen.
(The exception is anyone who’s thoroughly insulated by his or her skepticism, and refuses to accept anything out-of-the-ordinary. However, even for those people, something paranormal is likely to have an impact.)
Recognize what’s going on. If you’re feeling increasingly uneasy, or on the verge of hysteria, step back into the normal world for just a few minutes. Chat with a fellow teammate who doesn’t mind a moment’s break. Or, put your headphones on and listen to a favorite MP3. Or, just put your attention on your ghost hunting tools. Review your recent photos. Play back the EVP you’ve recorded. Remember that even an angry ghost isn’t as dangerous as a (living) two-year-old having a temper tantrum.
(In time, you’ll develop a tolerance for the crazy-as-a-loon stuff that can happen at haunted sites. Don’t expect to stay cool and calm on your first investigations… not if weird things seem to be happening, and they’re far more intense than they looked on TV.)
However, avoid getting so sucked into your chosen distraction, you forget to resume using your five (or six) senses as your primary investigation tools.
Here are a few things that can make ghost hunting equipment more of a problem than a useful tool:
- Avoid distracting other team members. For example, if your EMF meter has a sound feature, or you’re using an Ovilus in talking mode, you may need to turn the volume down or switch to headphones.
- Don’t rely on your equipment so much, you miss what’s really going on. I’ve seen partial-body apparitions that appeared and vanished in a split second. When I turned to the researcher next to me and asked, “Did you see that?”, the researcher was often so focused on his or her EMF meter, the apparition was missed.
- In rare instances, ghosts (or other entities) can use electrical devices to distract you. That can be anything from the common habit of draining your batteries, or causing your camera to malfunction, to saying something personal and frightening via real-time EVP.
If that happens, turn off all of your equipment. Pause and mentally regroup. Carefully observe what’s really going on around you.
(However, if you continue to feel uneasy on a “gut” level, get out of there, immediately. Usually, the problem is just some stupid bully of a ghost. It’s unlikely you’re in any real danger, but don’t take chances.)
Different people, different preferences.
Whenever professional ghost hunters gather, conversations almost always lead to the topic of ghost hunting equipment: What’s new, what works, and what’s a waste of time and money.
How well an individual ghost hunting tool works may vary from person to person.
I’ve seen an Ovilus talk and talk to one person, and go totally silent in the hands of someone else. (Don’t take it personally.)
One ghost hunter may get great results with photos but nothing in EVP recordings. Or, she may do well with dowsing rods and not with a pendulum.
(From what I’ve see, few people achieve reliable answers with a pendulum. I admire those who can use a pendulum well and consistently.)
This isn’t limited to ghost hunting equipment. After all, some ghost hunters hear ghosts, yet others see them, physically or psychically.
Nobody is certain why this happens. It doesn’t make one ghost hunter better than another. In fact, a diverse range of skills can be the difference between a great ghost hunting team, and one that has boring investigations.
Remember, every ghost hunter is unique. Likewise, spirits will react differently around some people, establish better rapport with some investigators, bully others, or go completely silent with all but one researcher.
The important take-away from this part of Lesson Three is this: When you’re new to ghost hunting, it’s better not to use ghost hunting tools like complicated cameras, EMF meters, and real-time EVP or talking devices.
Your five (or six) senses are the most important “tools” you’ll use on any investigation.
When the EMF meter spikes irregularly, you may never be certain if it was normal or paranormal.
However, when you see an apparition, or feel a tiny, ghostly hand slip into yours… that’s the kind of experience you can’t deny and will never forget.