Can ghost hunting groups investigate things other than ghosts?

Most ghost hunting groups investigate ghosts, and nothing else.

ghostly castle or hotelWhen I’m with a ghost hunting team, I might note something odd but definitely not ghostly.

(If you can’t tell the difference, see my book, Ghosts – What They Are and What They Aren’t.)

Generally, focus on one kind of paranormal energy per investigation. In my opinion, it’s a mistake to spread yourself too thin.

In fact, with recent (and extreme) dangers from demonic activity, it’s smart to limit your research to ghosts.

My advice…? Until you’re a confident ghost hunter, avoid demons, UFOs, crop circles, crypto zoology, and so on.

Or, switch your focus altogether. If you’re not really looking for ghosts, specialize in what you are looking for.

Many ghost hunters are trying to answer questions they’ve had for a long time. Many investigate until they find the answer. Others decide there is no answer.

Then, they move on to some other interest.

Tips: In general, and especially during an investigation, focus on one kind of entity at a time. Even if you’ve become interested in UFOs, ignore the skies when you’re on a ghost hunt. You might miss something important. Also, for some people, the shotgun approach can be overwhelming.

Decide what you are looking for and why. If you blur the lines between different kinds of phenomena, you may not know what you’re looking at.

It’s a relief when I see something weird and can say, “Nope. Not a ghost.“  I leave it alone and — at least during that ghost investigation — I look elsewhere.

Of course, ghost hunting groups can investigate things other than ghosts. But, it’s best to narrow your focus to just one group of phenomena at a time.

If you’re at a haunted location and something else is manifesting, complete your ghost investigation first.

Later, you can go back to see what else was there.

Keep the two investigations distinct.

Also, be sure to allow team members to leave at the conclusion of the ghost research. 

Just like some baseball fans have no interest in football, your ghost hunting team members may not be interested anything except ghosts.

Why do ghosts usually inhabit old, creaky and drafty buildings?

I’ve been asked this question often.

The thing is… I’m not sure that ghosts prefer old buildings that are creaky and drafty.

woman staring at haunted houseThat kind of environment puts many of us on edge.

That can heighten our awareness. It’s why we’re more likely to notice ghostly phenomena there.  We’re sensitive to subtle anomalies that we’d overlook – or explain differently – in a happier environment.

Let’s say a glass object rattles on a sideboard at your (living) grandmother’s house.

If her house is near a busy street, you’re likely to figure a heavy truck drove by. That may be exactly what happened.

By contrast, let’s say a glass object rattles on a sideboard in a creaky, drafty, “haunted” house. Your first thought might be, “It’s a ghost.” That may be the best explanation, but the environment set the tone.

More ghosts are reported in old buildings than new ones. That’s logical. More people have lived, worked, and died in old buildings. Those sites should have more ghosts.

Ask me to choose between two investigation sites:

1. The shiny new town hall in the middle of town, or…

2. The decrepit, abandoned one a few blocks from a weird old burial ground.

I’ll choose the old one, ten times out of ten. Even if both have great ghost stories, I’m more interested in the one with history.

However, the new town hall might have more intense and startling ghosts. Maybe I’d miss a great investigation by choosing the older location.

Worse, the old site might reflect folklore and urban legends and that’s all. No ghosts.

Old sites with rich history generally produce more ghostly phenomena than newer sites. That’s not just because old sites are creaky or drafty. I think it’s because they have history — life and death events — that leave energy imprints and perhaps ghosts.

What can you do to attract ghosts?

Let’s say that ghosts are spirits of the dead. (I’m not saying that they are or aren’t. I’m taking the question at face value.)

Think of them as people without physical form in our plane. They’ll behave the same as the living… more or less, anyway. 

Tip: Many ghosts can be sorted into one of three categories: 

1. Benevolent spirits who are simply revisiting our plane. (“Casper” ghosts.)

2. Ghosts with a story to tell before crossing over, or some task to complete. (They’re the “unfinished business” ghosts.)

3. Petulant/obnoxious ghosts that act like two-year-olds in need of a nap. (I’m often reminded of Beetlejuice, the movie.)

ghostly woman with candleIn general, consider what might interest a living person, and cause him or her to approach you.

Don’t treat ghosts as if they’re aliens, hard of hearing, slow-witted, dangerous, or performers.

They’re not.

Some ghosts are shy. Others have been taunted (or “provoked”) in the past. Be patient.

Many ghosts courageously approach investigators and establish rapport. Then, those investigators leave and never return. Often, the investigators didn’t even say goodbye. Remember, ghosts have feelings, too. Treat each ghost with the same respect you’d treat a living person.

Some ghosts quietly observe you before making themselves known. It helps to wait quietly for 20 minutes before investigating any location. The ghosts have time to get used to you.

Other ghosts might respond to specific stimuli. That could include a trigger related to the ghost’s death and later hauntings. Or, you could try a trigger from happier moments in the ghost’s past.

Theater ghosts are different. Usually, they respond well to direction. Politely tell the ghost what you would like him or her to do.

You may need to explain how to communicate with you. For example, you could tell him (or her) to knock once for yes and twice for no, or to speak through a device or an app.

Before investigating well-known haunts, learn what’s been successful at that location. It may work for you, too.

If you’re at a new location, experiment. Trial-and-error works. Take a variety of investigation tools with you, or plan enough visits to establish rapport with whatever is there.

 

Why do most ghost hunters investigate at night?

ghost hunting at duskPeople ghost hunt at night because it’s traditional.  Some choose night investigations for convenience. If you’re busy during the day, evening research is ideal.

Ghost hunting involves a variety of senses. During the day, visual distractions can be an issue. In darkness, you’re able to focus on your other senses.

Some ghosts manifest as orbs of light or other faint, whitish forms. They’re most easily seen after dark, where the contrast makes them more obvious.

For those who think “orbs” are a joke, and just dust or a camera glitch, here’s a 1913 description of one kind of apparition:

… the ghost or spirit appears as an immense glistening soap bubble, full of all the colors of the rainbow. These colors are constantly changing according to the thoughts and emotions of the man to whom the soul belongs.”

ghost orbI’m not sure that’s why orb colors change, but the rest of the description is good… and has nothing to do with camera errors.

A few ghost hunters believe that spirits have more power after dark. I’m not sure that’s true… but it might be.

Some ghost hunters have better luck after nine or 10:00 P.M. Others prefer research around midnight.

Many ghost hunters, including me, like to start investigations before dusk. You’ll be able to see more of the physical details around you.

Then, as night falls, you’ll be more comfortable in the setting. You know what’s where.  You can focus on any anomalies.

Tip: Outdoors, shadow people can be more obvious around dusk. We rarely see them in full daylight. In total darkness, it’s difficult to see any shadows at all.

If you’re an early riser, try researching at dawn. That’s when a building or landscape can be eerily silent. It’s one of my favorite times for research, but it can be more difficult to find others to ghost hunt at that hour.

No matter when you go ghost hunting — at dusk or dawn, or in between — darkness may be helpful.

What’s the best place to go ghost hunting?

The best place for ghost hunting is a location that’s actually haunted.

I’m not being flippant.  Really.

Haunted woods near Salem, MAThe problem is, a lot of people start ghost hunting by visiting places that are just “urban legends.” You won’t encounter ghosts there.

Or, they visit sites that weren’t very haunted to begin with, and — with lots of people trekking through — the original ghostly energy has been diluted.  Even the ghosts are bored with ghost hunting.

So, try to verify that weird things really do happen at the location you’re visiting. Look for recent YouTube videos at the site, or at least recent, detailed written reports, online.

A couple of things are important, no matter where you begin ghost hunting.

– Never go ghost hunting alone. Ever.

-Be sure every site is safe to visit.  Choose sites in safe neighborhoods. Indoors, look for solid floors and few obstacles. Outdoors, you’ll want level ground as much as possible. Bring your own medical-style mask. That’s essential if you’re entering a site that’s has mold, mildew, rodent droppings, or even a lot of dust.

(In 2012, an experienced researcher died from a respiratory infection. The cause was rodent droppings. Masks weren’t worn because the site had been visited — without problems — by several other teams. Since then, many of us are more careful.)

-Make certain the site is open to the public.  It doesn’t matter if “everyone goes there anyway.” If you’re at a site that isn’t posted, but the police ask you to leave, leave immediately. Don’t argue. In some states, the police have the right to decide a cemetery (or other public area) is off-limits.

Try to find a popular location. There, more experienced researchers can explain the basics to you.  For example, I’m usually happy to spend half an hour with a new team, showing them the best research spots.  I’ll also demonstrate basic, low-tech ghost hunting methods.  So, say hello if you see other ghost hunters. If they’re friendly, swap information.

However, don’t expect anyone to give you a free ghost hunting lesson.  Sometimes, we must focus on the investigation.

(Often, I’m happy to talk about the site and ghost hunting after the investigation. Until then, I can seem abrupt.)

Take part in ghost hunting events that are open to the public. You’ll explore new locations, and you’ll be among experienced researchers. That can be comforting and educational.

Is that intimidating? Some beginners prefer to start investigating with a group of friends.

-You could spend the night at a haunted hotel, or a ghostly bed and breakfast.

-You could visit a haunted battlefield.

-Dine at a haunted restaurant.

-Take a stroll through a haunted cemetery just before dusk.

You don’t have to leap into a “lights out” investigation. Start with whatever seems easy and comfortable for you.

How can I start a ghost hunting group?

Would you like to start a ghost hunting group?

Eerie figure in doorwayFirst, participate in a few ghost hunts with local groups. Take part in some public ghost hunting events. See how different investigations are organized. Decide what you like and don’t like.

Next, find others who share your interests. Ask acquaintances if they watch a certain ghost hunting TV series. See their reactions. If they seem enthusiastic, ask if they’d like to go ghost hunting with you.

It’s that simple.

Start with more interested people than you’ll actually need.

Make sure their backgrounds and schedules are a match.  Try to select team members whose personalities are compatible.

Tip: If your investigations are interesting, people will rearrange their schedules. If some members are awful, people will make up excuses to avoid your investigations.

Avoid personality problems.  Here are some things to watch for:

– Anyone who always has to be the leader. That includes you. This person has always done more, seen more, and knows more than everyone else. (That’s what he or she claims, anyway.)

– Loud, abrasive, sarcastic skeptics. For them, no evidence is good enough to take seriously. Worse, well-meaning team members will keep trying to change the skeptic’s mind. That wastes everyone’s time.

– Nervous people. They jump at shadows. They distract the group by needing comfort and reassurance. Often, they’re the people you least expect to hit the panic button.

– Anyone who makes every ghost encounter a deeply personal, religious experience. (However, if yours is a faith-based group, that may be an asset.)

– Over-eager believers. To them, everything is a ghost or spirit. Be nice. They might really enjoy ghost research. Let them continue… in someone else’s group.

– Anyone who has a troubling mental health issue. Anyone with a drinking or drugs problem.

– Anyone who needs extra attention that distracts you or the group. This includes anyone whose life is otherwise fraught with non-stop problems they insist on telling you about.

-Gossips, bullies, and anyone who ridicules other members, during or after an investigation.

Next, choose a convenient location to investigate. Meet there to see how the group works together.

If someone is being difficult, have a quiet conversation to resolve the issue. (However, obnoxious people tend to remove themselves from the group, usually loudly. Don’t take it personally. They do this a lot. They’re pros. Nothing you said or did would have made a difference.)

More rational people usually try to adapt to the team. Sometimes, that works out. Sometimes, it doesn’t. That’s the normal ebb & flow of any group, not just ghost hunters.

It’s never easy to ask someone to leave a ghost hunting group. Feelings can be hurt. Remember that good ghost research requires focused attention. If someone is distracting members from the work, that person cannot be on the team.

Experiment. Try different locations, including haunted houses, battlefields, cemeteries, and so on. Explore private and public sites, and so on. See what the team enjoy most.

Keep good records.  Maybe team members get better results at certain kinds of haunts. Also try different times of day, or on certain days of the week.

After that, you can establish goals, decide if you need to have rules, and so on.

Take your time. It may take a couple of months (or longer) to get a clear idea of what’s working and what isn’t.

How can I join a ghost hunting group?

Would you like to join a ghost hunting group?

Some of them are great.

Shadowy figuresOthers were started when ghost hunting TV shows reached their peak — before 2012 — and kind of fell apart after that. A few dedicated members may still be ghost hunting, but they’re not as enthusiastic as they once were.

So, don’t sign up for the first ghost hunting group you find. Check all your options, first.

Start with an online search for local ghost hunting groups.

– Examine each group’s website. Is it well organized? Is it believable? Is it updated regularly?

– Are they open to visitors and new members? (Some groups welcome new ghost hunters on investigations. Others are closed. A few host only fund-raising events.)

– Read the profiles of individual members and see if they have their own blogs. Do they sound like smart, experienced, interesting ghost hunters? Have any of the members already made up their minds about ghosts?

In other words, are they really investigating ghostly phenomena? Or, are they looking for evidence to confirm what they already believe? (If you share their beliefs, that group may be okay.)

Make sure the group seems a good match for your interests. You’ll spend hours sitting in the dark, waiting for ghosts. If your companions annoy you, those hours can be pretty awful.

When you have found a likely group, contact them.

– Have several phone or Skype conversations before meeting anyone.

– Don’t go alone. Bring a friend with you during your first meeting.

– If something makes you uncomfortable during the investigation, leave. You don’t need to make up an excuse. “This isn’t right for me” is enough. (If a group keeps trying to include you, ask them to leave you alone.)

Unfortunately, this is important: Rarely, sexual predators join (or form) ghost hunting groups. They like working in the dark. Women and children are the most frequent victims, but they’re not the only ones.

Remember: Physical phenomena are unusual. That includes ghosts that touch, pinch, or slap you.

If you feel uneasy around someone during a ghost hunt, you don’t need to make up an excuse. Just leave.

Not comfortable walking away…? Need an excuse no one will argue with?

– Say that you had fish for dinner and now you feel like you’re going to throw up.

– Act as if your phone is on vibrate. Pretend to answer it, wait about 15 seconds, and say into the phone, “I’ll be right home.” Then, say you have an emergency at home, and leave.

On the other hand, if the group seems like a good match, go on several more investigations with them.

Then, try a couple of investigations with another group, and so on. Identify what you like and don’t like about each ghost research team and the locations they investigate.

If you decide to join one of them, ask what’s involved. A waiver may be necessary. Read it carefully.

Things to avoid:

– A long-term commitment.

– A large, up-front fee.

– A fee to be part of the “inner circle.”

– Restrictions on who else you can ghost hunt with, what you can talk about, and so on.

If you’re going to join a ghost hunting group instead of start one yourself, choose carefully. You’re going to be in stressful situations with them. Be sure they don’t contribute to the stress, but help you achieve your personal goals as a ghost hunter.

How do I start ghost hunting?

Are you ready to start ghost hunting?

Have you watched a lot of TV shows such as Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures? Are you sure it’s a hobby you’d like to try?

If you have a good idea what’s involved in ghost hunting, and you’re eager to try it, you may be ready to explore a haunted location with other ghost enthusiasts.

haunted house in NHLearn more about the subject, first. Get some hands-on experience with a team or someone who’s been ghost hunting for some time.

Don’t rush out to a “haunted” site in the middle of nowhere, thinking it will be fun. You might be scared (or bored) out of your mind, and wonder what you got yourself into.  Sometimes it’s easy to get in your car and leave.

At other locations, especially if you’re in “lockdown,” it’s not so simple.

In addition, some isolated “haunted” sites are truly dangerous. (Those dangers usually come from the living more than the dead, but both are possible.)

Best ways to learn more about ghost hunting

  • Watch ghost related TV shows. (If you’re using Roku or other streaming-to-TV devices, look for ghost-specific channels.)
  • Watch ghost hunting videos on YouTube, etc.
  • Read my books. (Of course I’m going to say that.)
  • Read books by ghost hunters (and the stars of Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, Paranormal State, and similar shows).
  • Visits websites like mine, EncounterGhosts.com.
  • Read about haunted places in books, magazines, and newspapers, and online.
  • Listen to ghost-related podcasts.

Be sure you understand the risks of ghost hunting. You can avoid most dangers if you know what to expect.

Most real investigations include waiting for hours while nothing happens. Even at reliably haunted sites, expect a lull as long as two hours. After that, the “haunting” may only be an unexplained sound or a brief shadow seen by one person, out the corner of his eye. That’s typical, and it may be disappointing.

Now and then, an investigation seems tame for the first 20 minutes or so. Then things turn chilling. You’ll have one eerie experience after another, for an hour or longer.

If that sounds fine to you, download my free, four-week course. It explains basic ghost hunting.

Learn some of the words. Know what to expect during investigations. Try some inexpensive ghost hunting tools like homemade dowsing rods.

Some people start with public, organized ghost hunts. Often, they’re advertised online, in newspapers, and on community bulletin boards.

Ghost hunting events attract dozens or even hundreds of people.

What to expect at a ghost hunting event

  • You’ll usually hear a talk by one or more professional ghost hunters.
  • Then, you’ll learn about the history and layout of the location you’re investigating.
  • After that, the audience is usually divided into smaller groups. Each group will investigate one part of the location for a while.
  • Then, you’ll swap places with another group, and see what happens there. You’ll continue the rotation until you’ve explored the entire site.
  • Later, you’ll share your discoveries with others at the event, including some of the professional ghost hunters.

Tip: Most professional ghost hunters are eager to talk with people who share their interests. A few professionals are obnoxious. Don’t take it personally. They’re insulting and arrogant with me, too.

Some others — including me — can seem shy, “too busy,” or less accessible. (Talk to us anyway.  Most of us are happy to chat and share insights and research methods.)

Events show you what can happen during ghost hunts. You’ll meet people who are interested in ghosts.  You’ll understand more about ghost hunting.

If this isn’t as much fun as you’d expected, it’s okay to quit ghost hunting. You didn’t spend much money. You didn’t commit to membership in any groups. You met some interesting people, and maybe a few celebrities. You have some stories to share with friends and family.

Did you enjoy the events you attended? Look for good ghost hunting groups in your area. See if you can go on a few investigations with them.

Explore with different groups

Go on investigations with several groups. Decide whether you’d like to join any of them.

No groups in your area, or none you’d like to join? That’s okay. Find a few friends with similar interests. Explore safe, popular haunted locations near you.  Start your own group.

Never go ghost hunting by yourself.  Even with friends, avoid isolated haunts.

Haunted cemeteries

Haunted cemeteries can be a good starting point. Often, you can learn about the cemetery’s ghosts, online. Almost every community has a haunted grave or cemetery.

Also, ask local residents what’s haunted. Read regional newspaper stories, especially around Halloween.

I like cemeteries for many reasons. For example, you can use information on headstones to research the real history of each ghost. (Many haunted houses and battlefields are far more difficult to research.)

Regional books can provide extra information about haunted cemeteries. Ask at the public library. That information can make research more interesting.

My book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries: A How-to Guide, can be helpful, too. Your public library may have a copy.

What is a ghost hunter? Why would anyone want to hunt a ghost?

The term “ghost hunter” is slang. The person is hunting for evidence of ghosts.

It’s an old expression.  I’ve seen it used in the early 1890s. I think it’s far older than that.

So, don’t think a TV producer invented the phrase.

The Ghost Hunters™ TV series re-popularized the phrase in the early 21st century.  The phrase is trademarked, but only for the TV series and products directly related to the show.

The stars of the Ghost Hunters TV series are from a research group called TAPS, The Atlantic Paranormal Society. It was around long before the TV series started. They have their own website, separate from the TV show.

As far as I know, nobody actually “hunts” ghost. It’s not like hunting game for dinner.  (Some people hunt demons, but that’s a different field.)

Would you like to become a ghost hunter?  Do you have questions about ghosts and paranormal phenomena?  If so, ghost hunting may help you find answers.

Your research may be tedious and time-consuming. Many investigations involve uncomfortable settings. The work can be fascinating. Sometimes, it’s exhilarating. However, it’s still work. It’s rarely relaxing.

If you’re more interested in being entertained, try ghost tours. They’re fun. Many are theatrical performances. Others may reveal actual ghosts.

You might also like John Sabol’s presentations. What’s going on in front of you is real. It’s often extreme and fast-paced.  It’s very different than typical ghost hunts.

If you’re not sure, sign up for some ghost hunting events. Try several. No two are exactly alike.

Some researchers and psychics are more credible than others.  (I can vouch for Gordon Ellison, Lesley Marden, Sean Paradis, and David Wells, among others.)

The key is whether you have unanswered questions, or if you’re looking for entertainment.

What are some words that refer to ghosts?

Famous "brown lady" ghost photoGhosts, spirits, apparitions… those words are related but they don’t mean the same things. 

Below, you’ll see some other, related words. Many refer to ghosts, but others describe different paranormal entities.

Some people are happy to use the word “ghost” for any spirit of the dead. Others aren’t.

When people are sure who their ghost is, notice the words they use. Some people happily talk about their granny’s benevolent “spirit.” Describing her as a “ghost” could sound harsh.

She’s not haunting them, she’s visiting. The difference can be very important.

Fiona's adviceTip: Looking for fresh places to find ghosts? Search online and in books for the following words and phrases. You may turn up a haunted site you didn’t know about.

Here are some words that refer to ghosts. Some really do mean the same thing as ghosts. Others are related, more or less, but definitely aren’t ghosts.

– Ancestral spirit.
– Angel (or guardian angel), cherubim, seraphim.
– Angiris.
– Anomaly.
– Apparition.
– Banshee (Bean Sidhe).
– Being (or glorified being, celestial being, etc.).
– Changeling.
– Coiste bodhar (coach of the dead).
– Corpse.
– Cuirp dhaondachbach (Celtic spirit in physical-appearing form).
– Daemon. (Different than a demon.)
– Deceased (usually “the deceased”).
– Demon.
– Departed (or departed person).
– Djin, djinn, genie, genii, or jinnee.
– Entity.
– Fairy, faerie, or one of the good people.
– Familiar.
– Fiend.
– Form.
– Genius.
– Ghoul, ghoule, ghowl, ghul, ghuli. (Definitely not just a ghost.)
– Goblin (or hobgoblin).
– Green Lady.
– Gremlin.
– Guardian.
– Heavenly visitor.
– Incorporeal being (or immaterial being).
– Intelligence.
– Lamassu.
– Lar.
– Manes. (Note: That’s the singular.)
– Messenger.
– Penates.
– Phantom.
– Pitris.
– Semblance.
– Shade.
– Shadow person.
– Soul (or beatified soul).
– Specter or spectre.
– Spirit (or earthbound spirit, or vital spirit).
– Supernatural being.
– The unseen.
– Vestige.