Ghost hunting has been performed by individuals and groups for almost 150 years.
Ghost Hunt vs. Ghost Investigation
Yes, there’s actually a difference. A ghost hunt is a hunt around a place that is not publicly known to be haunted, or has had no record of paranormal activity. The goal is to catch a spirit on film (either video or photographic), sounds, or other evidence. Knowing this, we can say that Ghost Hunters is the wrong title for the show – it should be Ghost Investigators.
A ghost investigation is very similar to a ghost hunt, other than the fact that the individual or group investigating are at a place known to be haunted, such as Waverly Hills Sanatorium. The main goal is to either prove or disprove a haunting based on evidence, and sometimes even assist the spirits to move 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
- Calling Ghost
- Crisis Ghost/Message-Bringer
- Cyber Ghost
- Cyclic Ghost
- Haunted Objects
- Phantom Hitchhiker
- Phantom Travelers
- Recurring/Replay Ghost
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.
Due to the large amount 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.
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.
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.
Tips to Keep You Investigating
- Before you investigate at night (if you planned to), check out the area you are going to during the day so you can become familiar with your surroundings. Note any dangerous looking places and/or obstacles that could become difficult to see at night.
- Always check for trespassing signs. Never trespass. Know that there is a risk of getting a ticket or being arrested. We are not responsible for anything that happens to you. For a full disclaimer, click here.
- Be sure to bring your ID in case you are questioned by the police.
- It is a good rule of thumb to never go alone. The old-fashioned buddy system has kept people out of trouble for a while.
- “Psychic hours”, or the hours with the most paranormal activity, are from 9 PM to 6 AM, though any time of the day can produce evidence.
- Learn the history of the places you are visiting. We’ve got several places listed here. The Tax Assessors Office can also give you information on several locations.
- If there is rain, snow, or fog and you plan to do an outdoor investigation, you’ll need to reschedule it, as you cannot conduct a good investigation under such conditions.
- Be sure to keep an open mind as negative feelings could drive the spirits away. Be respectful of locations and the dead.
- Always be skeptical (but not to the degree where you don’t believe anything). Examine evidence for natural or man-made causes. Everything you find has to be able to stand up to scrutiny. If you eliminate explanations, your evidence can now become stronger proof.
- For obvious reasons, do not smoke, drink alcohol, or drugs during or before an investigation.
- Don’t whisper; it can make your recordings come out poorly.
- Do not wear cologne or perfume (or anything with a noticeable scent), as this could be mistaken for the smell of a supernatural occurrence (spirits oftentimes put off a scent for attention).
- In case of an emergency, always let someone who isn’t part of the investigation know where you are going.
Equipping for the Road Ahead: Ideal Equipment in Investigations
Basics (Best for Beginners)
The items listed below are used in both beginner and advanced investigations. They should be used in both kinds.
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.
Who knows how cold it will be during the investigation. It is a wise idea to dress appropriately.
When logging information, you’ll need to know the time.
Advanced (Better for Experienced Ghost Hunters)
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The Procedures of Ghost Hunting
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
Tips for Audio Recording
- Set up stationary recorders and let them run during the entire course of the investigation or walk around with them.
- While doing an audio recording, ask general or specific questions to a particular spirit. For ideas on questions, visit their gravestone (if you are investigating your cemetery). Below are some good questions:
- How did you die?
- Who left flowers?
- Did you live here?
- When reviewing evidence, always go back and listen to whole audio recordings, since EVPs are not usually heard at the time of the recording.
- Compare your recording to notes. If there is a sound that wasn’t logged in the notebook, odds are you didn’t hear it while investigating, and the noise could be paranormal.
Tips for Photographs
- In most cases, orbs are airborne debris, pollen, or dust.
- Never smoke while investigating, as this can look like mist or a vortex.
- Keep an eye out for dirt or dust being stirred up in the area, as this can create false positives.
- Long hair should be tied up or contained somehow, as this can look like evidence.
- Secure all/any camera straps so you don’t accidentally get a photo of that. When photographed, they can look like a vortex.
- 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.
- Try to avoid taking pictures of anything with a reflective surface. Flash from the camera can reflect off surfaces such as windows, polished tombstones, etc., and it can look like an orb. Always note light sources that may appear in photos.
- Inform your fellow investigators of when you are going to take a photo so you can prevent double flashes, which can cause a false positive. If you think you may have a double flash, note it so you can remember during evidence review. Night scope operators can get eye damage if they are looking through the scope at the time of a flash.
- During colder months, be conscious of your breath. In a photograph, it will look like ectoplasm mist.
- Ask the spirit if you can take their picture.
- Take as many pictures as you can, especially when you get positive readings on any piece of equipment.
- If you see an orb, mist, or sparkles, take several pictures as you may be near a spirit.
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.