Modern technology provides great assistance in the business of investigating a haunting, with digital recordings of temperature fluctuations, photographic evidence and digital voice recording (EVP – Electronic Voice Phenomena) and EMF (Electro Magnetic Frequency) meters as basic. Thermal Imaging Cameras and Video Recorders are expensive but valuable pieces of kit for the serious investigator.
Other equipment that is essential is a good sturdy torch, spare batteries for all equipment (paranormal phenomena have a habit of draining batteries rapido), a fully charged cell phone, a map of the area or building, a basic first aid kit, a small screwdriver and pliers (never know when you may be shut in somewhere!) and notebooks and pens for sketches. The list of equipment available is lengthy and any other than the previously mentioned are really only necessary for the professional investigator. So all equipped and ready, what do paranormal investigators do? Research on the area or building can take place prior to or after the investigation and is the subject of discussion among investigators. Both have merit. At the very least, interviews with eye witnesses and residents should be carried out and recorded.
Also note should be taken from the eye witnesses of any other paranormal activity witnessed in other locations. This may reveal a person of a sensitive nature or of an imaginative nature. Interview techniques will reveal which. Several eye witness reports of the same phenomena are a good indication of where to start or concentrate the investigation. The next step is the investigation itself. Baseline activity is established by a preliminary walk around the building, recording levels of Electro Magnetic energy, taking particular note of EMF readings around microwave ovens, TVs, computers etc, and recording temperature and sound for comparison after the investigation.
Any drafts and their source are located and recorded, and windows and doors are checked and securely fastened. Impressions are noted prior to and during the investigation. Then the equipment is set up ensuring the area is secure and the equipment tamper proof. Most investigators allow thirty to sixty minutes per room for the investigation including photography and video recording of any phenomena, EMF readings and EVP recordings even when there is no paranormal activity. It’s surprising what comes out on a photograph that was unseen by the human eye or on a digital recording that was at too low or too high a frequency for the human ear! Any paranormal activity that is witnessed is recorded immediately, noting location and time.
Lights on, lights off? This can be a bone of contention among investigators. Even with night vision lenses and cameras, investigating in the dark can be hazardous and unnecessarily difficult. Most apparitions take the form of dark shadows or shadow like figures, and which is easier to see, a shadow against light or a shadow in the dark? The more popular television shows of investigations go for the dark, perhaps because this makes for better TV entertainment and raises the anxiety levels of the audience. Serious investigators will never be aggressive or confrontational with any spirit or entity and will certainly not employ Ouija boards or séances as part of the investigation, both of which can open a portal for any entity to gain entry to this world. Some investigators work with psychics whilst others prefer to rely on physical evidence and data analysis of all findings and recorded data is usually done immediately after an investigation when any anomalous images and sounds can be determined. Unless there is physical evidence to confirm any activity, personal experience is not enough to confirm a haunting.
Photographic evidence of phenomena include orbs, vapours, vortices and apparitions. Orbs appear to be small or medium sized circles that are much lighter than the surrounding area. They are not considered to be the actual images of a spirit or ghost but instead an indication that an area contains a great deal of psychic or electromagnetic energy. They are by far the most common types of paranormal phenomenon to be captured on film and can range from one or two to over fifty per photo depending on the concentration of energy. Orbs generally have an off-white appearance. Vapours are more dramatic in appearance than orbs but not as common. They are connected with the life force and are thought to be the energy essence of a spirit or even the aura of a living person. Smokey vapours are similar to a vortex but instead of having a solid form, they are more nebulous or smoke-like without having the dusty consistency of cigarette or cigar smoke. Sometimes a face or body part can be seen in the vaporous form. Usually only one or two smoky forms will show up in a photograph and appear to concentrate around one person in the photo. Vortices are usually found at the focal point of a haunted area, that is, the location where most of the ghostly activity occurs, such as the centre of a cold spot or concentration of EMF energy. Generally stationary, vortices have been photographed changing shape, getting larger or smaller, and occasionally forming extensions. Sometimes vortices cast a shadow if a flash is used in taking their picture, which lends credence to the theory that they are inter-dimensional objects breaking through three-dimensional space. Apparitions occur when the actual form of the person or object appears on the film. Faces, clothing, and other identifying factors can be seen. Often there is nothing paranormal detected when the apparition was first caught on film.EVP recordings can often be the most elusive and spine tingling, when definite speech is heard on playback amidst white noise, or static noise. Unfortunately many EVP recordings are extremely subjective and words or speech is unclear. Investigators have to be very careful not to assign words to the noises heard if at all unclear. On the other hand some EVP recordings cast no doubt. The following link is to an actual recording made in a bedroom of a house when no one was home. It is a child’s voice, (no children lived in the house at the time) calling for her mother and obviously greatly distressed. I cannot obviously vouch for the authenticity of the recording not having been present or party to it, but it is typical of EVP sounds recorded by many serious investigators.
Investigators often leave EVP recording devices running in empty rooms during an investigation and will also use them randomly during the investigation to record audible sound phenomena as they occur. There are as many different approaches to an investigation as there are investigators, but as a rule of thumb, the approach is as follows.
- Obtain permission for the investigation if not approached directly by residents or owners of a property.
- General research into the history of the property
- Interview eye witnesses to any phenomena
- Make a sketch of the building
- Check and re-check all equipment before the investigation
- Ensure ample supply of fresh batteries for all equipment
- Baseline readings on preliminary walk through the building
- Set up equipment
- Conduct investigation
- Analyse findings immediately after investigation
- Follow up research in greater detail of the property i.e. past residents, past history, any traumatic historical events that tie in to the findings etc
- Arrange for a follow up visit if required
So, you want to be a paranormal investigator? Check out your locality for clubs and organisations, many are listed on the internet. There are several organisations where you can get information, such as The Institute of Parapsychology, or The Psychical Research Society. Whilst there are many organisations offering training and certification there is currently no standard and really the certificates mean very little but most provide an excellent background into the subject and give good basic instruction into using the various pieces of kit. There is no substitute for experience in this field. A final word of warning – Paranormal Investigation is not for the faint of heart and should be taken seriously and not used as a source of entertainment. You never know what’s out there! Happy investigating!
When most people hear the term paranormal they automatically think ‘ghosts’, but by definition the word simply means anything outside of normal that is unexplainable. This in itself is a paradox, for what is ‘normal’? Paranormal investigation covers many out of the ordinary events, including the manifestation of what we call ‘ghosts’. With the arrival of the highly successful, if not entirely scientific, television programmes following teams of ghost hunters, the interest in the paranormal has increased off the scale and there are many paranormal research agencies and societies dotted around this country and in the U.S.A. and an increasing number of registered paranormal investigators.
As paranormal investigation is increasingly focussed on what we term haunting it is perhaps important to define ‘ghosts’. What are they? The only true answer is that we just don’t know. There is, to date, no scientific proof of the existence of life after death or any true understanding of the phenomena of ghosts. What we do know, is that there are many natural causes for what could be interpreted as a ghost or haunting and most paranormal investigators use this as a starting point in any investigation. Eliminate all explainable causes for phenomena before assigning the word ghost or paranormal to any event or presence. It is our human nature to try and understand our environment and its contents, and this includes the manifestation of what we perceive as ghosts. Most investigators do their best to produce scientific evidence of any haunting once all other causes are eliminated. The truth is, at our present level of understanding and technology, there can be no concrete scientific proof; there can only be a ‘best guess’ based on data collected using modern state of the art equipment to verify fluctuations in magnetic energy fields and even capturing pictures on film and voices on tape and the elimination of all other causes. Even then, we still don’t have truly verifiable evidence that such data is proof of ghosts until we have a better understanding of the true nature of the phenomena and it can be recorded repeatedly over a long period of time. Suffice it so say that there is usually a change in electromagnetic energy and a fluctuation, usually a drop, though not invariably, in temperature when there is either visual, photographic or sound phenomena experienced. So, that said, ghosts fall into several different categories.
A residual ghost is usually associated with historical events and is of the recording type of ghost replaying down the years and seen mostly by sensitive people. These phenomena are not interactive with the living. A ghost is similar to a recording of an event or person that has created a psychic groove which can remain in a place long after the person has moved on. Facial features and clothing are sometimes seen as they were at the time of death. One of the best examples of this is The Brown Lady of Raynham Hall in Norfolk, said to be the ghost of Lady Dorothy Townshend. She haunts the staircase of Raynham Hall and a photograph of her ghost is probably the most well documented of its type.
An entity is something different in that it embodies the consciousness of a person that once inhabited a human body. When an entity appears it is not a recording but the phenomena is taking place in real time, possessing the personality it had in life.
Another type is a spirit which is the actual soul of the deceased which for some reason cannot move on and is anchored to the earth plane because of an unfulfilled promise or unfinished business and unresolved traumas, or simply that they don’t know they are dead. In the case of sudden death the spirit of the deceased is often confused and doesn’t realise that they are no longer alive in the physical sense. Spirits can communicate with the living and on rare occasions can actually appear to the living or move objects and can even communicate through dreams.
A poltergeist, literally translated as ‘noisy spirit’, is one of the most active forms of phenomena. Generally objects are thrown and loud scary noises are often heard, such as rapping on walls and floors, and affecting lights or other electrical appliances. Table or chair stacking is often the signature of a poltergeist. Poltergeist activity is generally centred on a person rather than a place and often it is young adolescents that are the focus of these phenomena. Psychological stress or trauma can result in psychokinetic energy being released which results in the movement of objects.
Still interested? Find a group local to you and Happy Haunting – Sorry! Happy Hunting!