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 the 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.

The easiest, closest places to find ghosts…

Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries – quick-start guide

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 is the main reason why ghosts haunt houses?

If we take folklore seriously, most ghosts have a story to tell, a wrong to correct, or unfinished business.

eastern state penitentiaryWhen ghost hunters investigate a haunted site, most ghosts seem to fit that profile.

In almost every case:

– The ghost wants something specific to happen before crossing over. Or, the ghost is afraid to cross over for other reasons.

– In some cases, the ghost refuses to believe that he or she is dead. Ask them what year it is, and you’ll usually get the year the person died.

– Or, it’s actually an energy imprint, not a ghost (or spirit) lingering at the site.

A few tales — such as the “green lady” stories of Scotland — offer other explanations. Green ladies remain in homes that they loved. Those are benevolent spirits. They protect the building and the people who live in it. Each “green lady” ghost isn’t trapped in the house. She could leave whenever she wants to. She’s happy to stay there.

Green lady ghosts are like the spirits of relatives. They visit us to check on our safety and happiness.

I’m not sure that I’d call that a ghost. The spirit isn’t trapped in our plane of existence.

By contrast, a banshee may also be a relative of the family it guards. Is the banshee trapped here? Is it a ghost, or — as much folklore suggests — part of the faerie realm? It’s difficult to establish boundaries and precise definitions.

Until we’re sure that ghosts exist, and what they really are, we can’t be sure why they haunt houses… or any other location.