Ghost hunting has been performed by individuals and groups for almost 150 years. To learn more about ghost hunting, be sure to check out our book, Ghost Hunting 101!
Ghost Hunt vs. Ghost Investigation
A ghost hunt is a search for spirits in a location that is not publicly known to be haunted. The goal is to capture paranormal evidence on film (video and/or photo), to record sounds, and collect other evidence.
A ghost investigation is very similar, except the individual or group investigating are at a place with a reputation of paranormal activity, such as the Waverly Hills Sanatorium. The goal here to prove or disprove a haunting based on evidence and/or assist spirits in moving on.
The Possible Encounters: Types of Ghosts
Believe it or not, there are several different types of ghosts. We have 22 listed in our Types of Ghosts guides alone, but there are bound to be more undiscovered kinds. However, there are two classifications of ghosts: human or non-human (not referring to animals). Human ghosts are spirits of people who have died. Non-human ghosts are demonic, evil-spirits that are considerably more dangerous.
The 22 Ghosts You Could Encounter: Animal ghosts, apparitions, atmospheric, banshee, calling ghost, crisis ghost/message-bringer, cyber ghost, cyclic ghost, demon, family, haunted objects, historical, incubus/succubus, Marian, modern, phantom, phantom hitchhiker, phantom travelers, photographic, poltergeist, recurring/replay ghost, transportation
Places to Look
Just about anywhere can be haunted, but there are some with a higher likelihood than others. We’ve listed three popular types of haunts to get you started.
Cemeteries: Due to the large number of dead people who come into cemeteries, there are bound to be a few that stick around beyond the grave. Check out these creepy cemeteries.
Schools: Dark events have been known to take place at schools, such as murders and kidnappings. Schools can contain psychic energies and imprints on the past. Get an education on scary schools.
Theaters: Accidents behind the scenes and murders are just some of the reasons theaters can become very haunted. Watch spirits put on a show in these terrifying theaters.
To learn more about different haunts, click here.
The Procedures of Ghost Hunting
- Meet in a common location. Be sure to have everyone in your group meet near the location you will be investigating. Decide who will be working what pieces of equipment, as this will alleviate any confusion when it comes time to get to business. Choose one member of the group that will talk to anyone who should come in contact with the group, such as reporters, police, or security firms.
- Take part in a blessing. Either privately or with the group, enter the location and ask for blessing or protection over the course of the investigation. During this time, try and put yourself into a positive frame of mind. Taking ten seconds to perform a prayer can make you feel safe from evil spirits that may lurk in the area. Demonologists always recommend that doing this in the name of God or whichever good deity you worship (if any), you can keep non-human spirits at bay.
- Survey the area. For about twenty minutes, walk around the are you’ll be investigating. Take notes on any information that may be relevant later on. During this time, set up stationary equipment like cameras on tripods or motion detectors. Do not turn them on until you are ready to begin. Also note anything that may cause you to get false readings or false positive pictures.
- Investigate! Begin your investigation with your team. Always note anything unusual, such as temperature and EMF readings, visual sightings, and odd sounds. Note odd or out of place feelings or emotions. Since you will all be taking notes, compare everyone’s findings after the investigation.
- Rotate the team. Whether or not you are walking around or staking out a spot during an investigation, let everyone have the opportunity to try everything and get a chance to be everywhere. This will keep things fresh and everyone will have good attention. You should rotate out a few times during your investigation.
- Closing up the investigation. Once you have finished your investigation, make sure everyone has met up in one spot. Be sure to ask the human spirits not to follow you home, and to let them remain in the building. Tell them that they are to stay there in the name of God, or another good deity. This takes only four seconds, and it can prevent some future problems.
- Each investigator should have a log of events and times, as everything needs to be logged no matter how trivial it may seem. If you drop a pencil, log it, as it may appear in someone else’s recording.
- Have everyone walk through the location. Have one member do map location noting (logging different items that may produce noise, such as air vents, heaters, electrical appliances, fuse boxes, computers, and so on). Have another write down temperatures in each of the rooms, and mark any EMF readings you get. During the walkthrough, take five to ten test photos. Don’t discuss the details of the case at this point.
- Interview any witnesses using one or two investigators. If the witness is ok with it, video or tape the interview. Have the other members survey the area and take notes.
- Never make any conclusions, and do not share conclusions or opinions with the witnesses or owners until evidence has been collected and reviewed.
14 Tips to Keep You Investigating
- If you plan on doing a night investigation, become familiar with the location you are investigating during the day so you can note any dangerous looking areas that would be difficult to spot at night.
- Never trespass. Always obtain the proper permissions before investigating.
- Always bring your ID in case you get questioned by police.
- Never go alone.
- Though any time of the day can produce evidence, 9 PM through 6 AM has been widely accepted as “the psychic hours,” or the time when the most paranormal activity occurs.
- Learn the history of the places you are visiting.
- Do not conduct an outdoor investigation if there is rain, snow, and/or fog present – the evidence will be of no use.
- Keep an open mind. Negative feelings could drive spirits away.
- Always be respectful of the locations and the dead.
- Be skeptical, but not so skeptical where you don’t believe anything. Scrutinize your evidence and look for natural and/or man-made causes. Eliminating non-paranormal excuses will make your proof stronger.
- Do not smoke, drink alcohol, or use drugs during or before an investigation.
- Don’t whisper. Your recordings will come out poorly.
- Do not wear cologne or perfume or anything with a noticeable scent. Spirits sometimes communicate through smell.
- In case of an emergency, always tell someone who is not a part of the investigation where you are going.
4 Tips for Audio Recording
- Set up stationary recorders and let them run during the entire course of the investigation.
- Ask general and specific questions to a particular spirit.
- When reviewing evidence, always listen to the whole recording, since EVPs are not typically heard at the time of the recording.
- Compare your recording to your notes. If there is a sound that wasn’t logged in the notebook, you likely didn’t hear it while investigating. There’s a chance it could be paranormal.
6 Tips for Photographs
- Avoid false positives by tying back long hair, not smoking, looking out for stirred up dust and dirt, securing camera straps, being aware of your breath in the cold weather, and avoiding taking pictures of anything with reflective surfaces.
- In most cases, orbs are airborne debris, pollen, or dust. Orbs, mist, and sparkles can also be an indication that you are near a spirit.
- Inform your fellow investigators when you are taking a photo to prevent double flashes, which can cause a false positive. Take note of any double flashes you may have accidentally taken. Night scope operators can get eye damage if looking through the scope at the time of a flash.
- Ask the spirit if you can take their picture.
- Take as many pictures as you can, especially if you are picking up positive readings on any piece of equipment.
- You don’t need to use your camera’s viewfinder; simply hold it out in front of you and keep it focused on where you want to take a picture. It also helps during cold weather, as it keeps your breath away from the shot
The items listed below are used in both beginner and advanced investigations. They should be used in both kinds.
Digital Camera: Digital cameras serve as great tools in ghost hunting and investigations. With better technology these days, it has never been easier to get amazing footage. Some cameras can use infrared spectrum, full spectrum, and ultraviolet, those these can be more expensive.
Digital Voice Recorder: A voice recorder serves as one of the most invaluable pieces of ghost hunting equipment. They can be used for a variety of things, most often for your own notes or thoughts or electronic voice phenomena (EVP). EVPs are believed to be the ghosts of spirits. At the start of your investigation, always state the location, time of investigation, and investigators names (names should be presented by each individual so voices can be distinguished).
Flashlight with Spare Batteries: Since it is probably dark while you are investigating, you’ll need to have a flashlight. Batteries can run out quickly due to spirit activity. It is recommended that you use a red light flashlight, as it helps in preserving your night vision.
First Aid Kit: It is vital to have first aid in case something should go awry.
Notebook with Pens or Pencils: Log everything that happens. You can go back later and determine if it is paranormal or not. Important evidence to write down includes EMF readings, times EVPs were recorded, and so on. A pocket tape recorder is also good, but you will need spare batteries and tapes so you don’t run out.
Watch: When logging information, you’ll need to know the time.
Weather-Appropriate Clothes: Who knows how cold it will be during the investigation. It is a wise idea to dress appropriately.
For the Experienced
Cellular Phone: While most everyone has a cell phone, it is important in the event of an emergency. Just be sure it is turned off or put on vibrate to minimize sounds.
Compass: Thanks to its compact size and inexpensiveness, the compass serves as a useful tool in investigations. The needle won’t find a precise heading or will spin or move erratically in the presence of a spirit, similarly to an EMF meter.
EMF Detector: Electromagnetic Field Detectors (otherwise known as an EMF detector) is a tracking device that can detect any fluctuations in electromagnetic energy. A widely accepted theory as that spirits disrupt these fields that cause abnormal readings on EMFs. Fluctuations between 2.0 to 7.0 are considered to be a spirit presence, while anything higher or lower is most likely a natural source.
Hand Held Radios or Walkie-Talkies: If you are investigating a large building with several rooms or an outdoor area, radios or walkie-talkies are good for emergency situations or rotating groups. However, they can interfere with your EVP recordings.
Motion Detectors: Motion detectors can detect even the smallest movements made by unseen entities. Battery operated detectors go for around $20, and serve as a great tool for indoor investigations. They can be used successfully outdoors, but animals, for example, can set them off instead of the undead.
Thermometers: Thermometers can be used in detecting a spirit presence, as a temperature drop of ten degrees or more could indicate that a spirit is in the area. Infrared non-contact thermometers are the recommended instrument in this case.
Always remember that a majority of the people who will request an investigation will want to be comforted, informed on the topic, and they may desire the spirits to move on. No mater what your approach or believes are, be prepared to do this, and if you’re not able to, at least provide them with the names of people on your team.
Try to teach them about what is going on so they can understand what is occurring in their house or building. After you explain to them what is going on, most of them will no longer be as scared or concerned. If you or your group offers additional assistances through psychics, spirit rescues, etc., know that the feelings of your clients come first.