Friday, 15 July 2011

And some fell by the wayside

As a good housekeeper I decided to check that all the links on my investigators page were still all active. I don't know about you, but I hate it when you visit a site and half the links are long since dead. I found it a depressing exercise. When it came to the USA sites it was as if a plague had swept through the place. I dropped around 12 links that were either dead or "domain for sale" pages.

The depressing part is that I now have gaps where there are no investigators in certain states - I HATE GAPS!!!

I found a couple of links in the UK investigators section, but the rest all seemed healthy and thriving.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Ghost Hunting Advice and Tips

Here are my thoughts on ghost hunting, the equipment used and the conduct whilst participating.

What is a Ghost Hunt

In its simplest terms it is an exploration of a building or other site where the presence of ghosts or other similar paranormal occurences have been reported. A person (or more often a team of people) then proceed on to enter the property to conduct an investigation. They often use items of electronic equipment - these are described below.

Ghost Investigations, or Ghost Hunts can be performed by a dedicated team of "ghost hunters" who then report their findings to the property owners. They often have websites where they post their findings (with the property owners consent of course)

There are commercial companies who offer organised ghost hunts for a fee and take their paying customers to a reputedly haunted location. They often provide some items of electronic gadgets.

Who goes on a Ghost Hunt?

There is no one type of person. Many are believers in the supernatural and equally there are many sceptics or non-believers. Originally, Ghost Hunts were usually performed by small teams of investigators for their own enjoyment, or occasionally for a fee. Since the popularity of many TV programmes on the subject it has become a new commercial field of opportunity with many companies offering such events to the paying customer.

So, what is the attraction of Ghost Hunting?

This is an almost impossible question to answer. Different people go for different reasons. Some merely go for the thrill of the event and the possibility of a dose of controlled fear. Some go to prove or disprove their own personal theories on the subject depending on whether they are a believer or a sceptic. Ghost Hunters come in all different types with varying belief systems.

Speaking purely from a personal perspective, I have been on several privately organised Ghost Investigations and a handful of the organised, fee paying ones. On both types of investigations there is always something that happens to make the small hairs stand up on the back of my neck, and I am something of a sceptic. I have to say that they are great fun. On a more serious note I do take my equipment along and keep a personal log of anything I think is worth noting.

Whether you believe in ghosts or are a firmly entrenched sceptic or non-believer, being in a dark place that is reported to be haunted does tend to throw your belief systems and your imagination into overdrive. The senses are heightened and the smallest noise is likely to cause alarm to believers and sceptics alike. If this were untrue then cinema attendees watching a spooky film would be split into two distinct camps. Those cowering in abject fear, and those laughing out loud at all the far-fetched ghosts and monsters. So, even if you are a sceptic or a believer, going out prepared for the night is a must.

What will I need?

Initially, very little, apart from a few basic things, such as a torch, a notebook, a pen, a warm jacket (it can get cold at night-time) and basic refreshments.

Most ghost hunters carry pieces of electronic equipment that are as yet unproven to detect the presence of ghosts, or indeed to do anything apart from the jobs they were originally designed to do (like EMF meters etc). The theory is that ghosts are capable of absorbing or emitting energy, and as such, their effects can be measured.Listed below are the most important things you will need and the most popular tools used:

A Torch/ Flashlight

It is very important that you take along a torch. If you are walking around unfamiliar properties with the lights off then a torch is a must. It is very easy to get disorientated and this makes accidents more likely to happen.

Refreshments and the right clothing

As most ghost investigations take part at night time the temperature can plummet in the wee small hours. If you have a nice warm jacket and your trusty thermos flask it can help make the night a little more bearable.

A Notebook and pen

This is one of the items that is often forgotten but is a crucial item. You cannot store everything to memory - especially times. It helps in making accurate notes when you write up the case files later on. If you write in your notebook something like "anomalous shadow seen on main staircase - time 2-45am" this is better than trying to recall times and locations from your memory at a later date.

An open mind

The most important thing to take to an investigation. If you are a believer then resist the temptation that every tap or bump you hear is of a paranormal nature. If you are a sceptic then try to allow for the possibility that odd things do happen.

First Aid Kit

You can buy those little kits that slip quite neatly into your pocket from most camping stores. They are not expensive. As mentioned before, when you are walking around unfamiliar properties with the lights off the risk of an accident is increased.

Mobile phone or Walkie-Talkie

Very often on a ghost hunt the group can split up into smaller groups to cover more ground. For safetys sake it is very important that everyone should have the means to contact each other should an emergency occur.

EMF Meters, Digital Thermometers and other electronic gadgets

An EMF meter is a device used to measure small changes in electromagnetic fields. It is believed by many ghost hunters that this can indicate the presence of a ghost. It is also useful for finding any electromagnetic hotspots. A high electromagnetic field is reported to possibly cause hallucinations and the feeling of a presence being in the room if exposed to these magnetic fields for long periods of time. This can help to "debunk" any reported stories from property owners about their anecdotal evidence. Such things as "that corner always feels weird" etc.
Digital lazer thermometers are a hand held piece of equipment that emit a lazer beam and can measure the ambient temperatures of different areas of the room. This can be useful in finding cold spots (or debunking them).

Conduct whilst on a ghost investigation

The first hurdle to overcome is the obvious one - do try not to over-react. A creaking door, an anomalous thud or creak does not necessarily mean paranormal activity. In fact, it almost always doesn't. Hysteria spreads like wildfire, and soon the whole team of people are a bunch of over-sensitive, jibbering wrecks. (But isn't that where all the fun lies?). Be prepared to enjoy yourself, but not to the detriment of others enjoyment. On investigations many people turn into gigglers. This does not mean that they are not taking the investigation seriously, they are just covering up their fear with laughter. A common reaction. Personally I prefer them to the screamers and the hystericals.

On organised ghost hunts always obey the rules and follow the directions of the tour leader. It is unadvisable to strike off on your own, especially as you are a guest in someone elses property. There may be opportunities for exploration later on in the tour. Even then it is advisable to take along a companion in case of emergencies.

Usually there will be stated break times during these organised events. Try and stick to them rather than having any unfortunate accidents, such as spilling the contents of your thermos accidentally in the dark. Firstly you can scald yourself, and secondly you can damage others property. Imagine the effects of a thermos full of coffee on an antique carpet!. Eat and drink with the lights on with the main group. It also makes for a social occasion where you can exchange anecdotes with the others.

Where can I go on a Ghost Hunt?

As previously mentioned, there are many organisations who offer these services for a fee. There are also many local teams of Ghost Hunters who occasionally take people along on their private investigations. It is always worth approaching such people. You may be able to go along for free!

There are many haunted locations to be found by doing a little research on Google. You may even have heard a few stories from your surrounding area. It is inadvisable to do an investigation on your own for safety reasons. My personal advice would be to go along with an experienced team of people for your first Ghost Hunt. You can then learn the etiquette of such events and pick up a few tips on how to conduct an investigation and how to use the equipment.

I have been on my first Ghost Hunt - what do I do with my findings?

As they are your personal findings, photographs, recordings etc, they are yours to either keep as your own personal notes or to share with others. Always remember, any such material concerning other peoples property can only be shared with their consent. They may not want the world to know they own a haunted property. This can lead to unwanted attention from others wishing to do a Ghost Hunt there as well.

There are several forums to be found online where you can share all your thoughts with like-minded people, or it may even spur you on to join a team. Some of them have great T Shirts (smiling as I type that)

This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive guide to ghost hunts, but I have tried to cover all the points that I have personally encountered. The most important thing is to be safe and to enjoy yourself.

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