Why You Should Stop Looking for a “Good Scare”

Many people start ghost hunting for fun. They’re looking for a “good scare.”

In my opinion, there’s nothing wrong with that. Not on its own.

Of course, if drinking or drugs are involved, it’s risky to visit haunted places. That’s not just about ghost hunting dangers. A bigger concern may be the police who closely watch “haunted” sites and arrest trespassers.

In fact, many people who thought ghost hunting was a one-time “just for fun” adventure, later become serious researchers.

Looking back, I’d guess that at least 30% of my team members and close associates had a “good scare” story from the past. And, in every case, that’s what sparked their long-term interest in paranormal research.

So, why should anyone stop looking for a “good scare”?

In many cases, maybe they shouldn’t. I’m not sure, and it’s probably a very individual decision.

Today, my warning is about the adrenaline rush and possible addiction. In ghost hunting, it can lead to danger.

A Typical First-Time “Good Scare” Ghost Hunt

Let’s say that Joe and his friends visit a famous haunted cemetery (or a battlefield, an abandoned hospital, or a deserted house).

Maybe they’re just bored, looking for a thrill.

They wander around the site, griping about stupid ghost stories, stupid ghost hunters, and how this visit is a waste of time.

ghostly handThat’s when they encounter something odd.

And, on closer investigation, they realize it’s truly scary.

They run, nearly falling over each other, back to the car.

“Holy crap,” one of them says. “What the heck was that thing?”

“I dunno,” another replies. “I wish we’d never gone there.”

“Me, too,” a third agrees. “Let’s get out of here. Now.”

Eventually, they go home. And, for a few days, each promises himself he’ll never joke about haunted places again.

And Then, the Scare Wears Off

Some time later, Joe decides he was just imagining things. Or maybe he realizes how alive he felt, in that moment of terror.

He decides to revisit the site – his own or with his friends – to see how it looks, now.

One of four things result:

  1. Nothing happens. Joe is disappointed.
  2. The same thing happens, but Joe debunks it.
  3. The same thing happens, but Joe isn’t so scared, this time.
  4. Something bigger and scarier happens, and – once again – Joe experiences that intense adrenaline rush.

If nothing happens, Joe may shrug and laugh about how scared he was. In time, he may forget the whole thing.

If it’s 2 (Joe debunks it) or 3 (Joe isn’t so scared), he may decide he’s kind of interested in this. He learns more about ghost hunting, goes on a few ghost hunts, and becomes a serious researcher.

Joe, frightened - a good scare or not?If something bigger & scarier happens (point 4), Joe may quit going to haunted places. He figures he’s learned his lesson.

Or, he might decide he likes that “good scare,” and go looking for bigger and better scares.

That’s when he’s at risk.

Sure, maybe he tells himself he’s ghost hunting, or looking for UFOs, or something else.

But, what he’s really doing is looking for another adrenaline rush.

It can become an addiction, as Joe looks for progressively more terrifying encounters.

That’s the Danger

If Joe doesn’t understand the real risks – physical, emotional, and spiritual – at haunted places, he’s a danger to himself.

Physical risks include stumbling or falling because he’s not watching where he’s going, or he’s ignored warnings about uneven footing, weak floorboards, etc.

Or, eagerly pursuing “a good scare,” he might forget to put on his respiratory mask at a site with deadly mold or rodent droppings.

Emotional and spiritual risks include being tricked or attacked by a malicious entity.

demonic face - provoking demons is never a "GOOD scare"If Joe is on your ghost hunting team, he could provoke spirits best left sleeping. (Joe might do this deliberately, or without thinking about it.)

Or, he might recommend a site that’s truly dangerous, thinking everyone is on the same page.

What to Do

If you’re Joe, pause and think about your ghost hunting goals, as well as clear warning signs that it’s time to stop. Put them in writing. Tell a trusted friend (or team member) what they are.

Consider going to scary movies – the bigger the movie screen, the better – for a safer “good scare.”

If Joe might be on your ghost hunting team, sit down with your members. As a group, discuss each person’s goals and limits (time, money, travel distances, fear/boredom levels) in paranormal research. Find out which kinds of sites (or hauntings) intrigue them, and what they’d rather avoid.

When everyone knows more about fellow team members, they can support each other’s goals. Your research results may improve.

And, if anyone is searching for increasing “adrenaline high” moments, you can follow-up with a private conversation about potential risks.

A “good scare” can be a fine foundation for future serious, paranormal research. Many ghost hunters started that way.

The only time it’s a danger is when the person doesn’t realize he (or she) is seeking a thrill, and deliberately looking for an increasingly terrifying experience.

Know the difference, for yourself and your team members.

Some Ghosts of New Orleans

Ghost Hunting podcast - Hollow HillThis is another one of my earliest podcasts. I recorded it in October 2006, shortly after Hurricane Katrina. The following topics are part of this 20-minute recording.

NOLA - Pirates Alley, on a foggy, rainy night
Pirates Alley in New Orleans.

Hotel Monteleone appears to be a portal of some kind. (That’s true of many French Quarter locations.) This hotel is unusual because people not only encounter the hotel’s ghosts, they seem to connect with their own loved ones, as well.

Jackson Square‘s vivid military history is just one reason why it’s among New Orleans’ most haunted areas.

Pirates’ Alley is named after the ghost of pirate Jean Lafitte. He and his brothers – and perhaps other pirates – appear in that alley by the cathedral, especially on foggy nights.

Brennan’s Restaurant is a popular, internationally famous restaurant. It’s also the home of four ghosts. Two appear upstairs. Two appear downstairs.

New Orleans is still among America’s best places to encounter ghosts. Some areas of New Orleans are still in recovery, even in 2017 as I’m updating this.

But, the French Quarter was barely touched by the hurricane and the flooding that followed. So, it’s still a wonderful old city with a great, ghostly history.

Related links:
The haunted portrait of Comte LeFleur : Three photos of his changing portrait.
Hotel Monteleone – One of New Orleans’ most elegant hotels is also one of its most haunted… in a good way.
New Orleans online – Learn more about one of America’s best vacation spots.
Brennan’s Restaurant – Visit for world-class dining… and a few encounters with real ghosts.

Listen now

New Orleans book: In this podcast, I mentioned a book that, late in 2006, I’d nearly completed. However, my publisher and I weren’t able to agree on several important issues. So, I’m sorry to say that book wasn’t published and I don’t expect to resume work on it.

Glitches: The sound quality isn’t very good, but – in 2006 – after two weeks of truly weird things happening to the recording, I decided to post it anyway.

Then, in 2009, when we changed Hollow Hill’s format and had to re-import all the files, this one file kept giving us problems. I’m not sure why, but it makes me wonder just what I said in the podcast that results in these weird glitches.

If the sound isn’t red-hot now (after Nov 2017), maybe the ghosts are playing pranks? Sometimes, their humor eludes me, but I try to smile anyway.

Music by: Devin Anderson (I think he’s now Devin Anderson Wiley)

Ghosts in the News: Nov 2017 [2]

newspaperHalloween may be over, but these fresh news reports might interest ghost hunters.

Some suggest places we can investigate. Others are only worthy of a raised eyebrow.

Pluckley (England) is a good example of why ghost hunters need to look for fresh investigation sites.

Oh, Pluckley sounds like it’s very haunted. That’s not the issue.

One article, Is Pluckley still England’s most haunted village?, suggests that – at Halloween – the entire village might be off-limits to ghost hunters. It was, a few years ago.

Despite that, Pluckley is practically a cornucopia of delightful ghost stories. A 2015 article from The Sun described them nicely in Britain’s most haunted village.

YouTube offers several videos about Pluckley’s ghosts. Some are more sensational than others. I like this old-school 1995 video:

I’d eagerly visit Pluckley to see if it’s truly haunted. But, I’d be very discreet about my research, relying on observation more than obvious ghost hunting equipment.

Pluckley’s tales have far more credibility than a 2017 story from St. Osyth in Essex (England).  It’s describe in an article in The Sun, Britain’s most haunted house on the site of witch prison goes on sale… Ordinarily, I’d guess that “witch prison” story was a parody, but it’s presented as actual news.

Well, maybe…

Any site that claims to have a “satanic goat” (not sure what makes it “satanic”), recurring blood spatters, and three apparitions – and then boasts of a prison door and “Coffin Alley” just outside… that stretches credulity past the breaking point.

The owner claims she didn’t know the site’s history when she bought it. That may be true. But, I’d think the old sign in the wall, describing the site as The Cage – Mediaeval Prison, might have been a hint.

In general, this seems as over-hyped as last October’s Deerpark school videos. They show a preposterous collection of “poltergeist” incidents.

In the most recent video, I can’t see the fishing line clearly. (Other viewers said they saw it.) It’s probably off-screen, close to the camera. I’m fairly sure it’s attached to two legs of the chair. Then, they ran the line around the pipes at the lower right corner of the screen. Off-camera, a tug on the line would drag the chair across the room, just as in this video.

Neither October 2017 Deerpark video is credible. But hey, if that Irish school raises money from YouTube advertising revenues, I’m okay with that. Just don’t take the videos seriously.

If you’re ghost hunting in Ireland, the Irish Mirror suggests Co. Offaly, instead. That article describes a haunted triangle formed by castles at Kinnitty, Leap, and Charleville.

(Irish Central adds a fourth point: Clonony Castle. The videos in that article may raise eyebrows, but the historical notes are interesting.)

Kinnitty castle seems worth investigating. Someone left a long, negative review of it at TripAdvisor, including a reference to a ghost in her room:

We went to bed and when the lights went out, the room was black dark… then we heard breathing coming from the corner of the room. I never slept a wink all night. My boyfriend then told me he saw a shadow in the room at 3am!

Though that could be a fake review, she’s so critical of everything, I’d take it seriously. (It’s the kind of thing I look for, when I’m searching for haunted hotels and B&Bs to visit. A rant about the site’s ghosts is more credible than half a dozen raves about them.)

Americans interested in Irish haunts may appreciate the following video. (The special effects and unfortunate pronunciations are distracting, and I started to hate the word “creepy” after the first few minutes. Despite that, the overview of each location is pretty good.)

In the near future, I’ll post more information about haunted places in the U.K.

(Meanwhile, my friend Jen recommends Pendle Hill, Bolsover Castle, and Jamaica Inn in Cornwall. The latter surprised me, as I’d expected that to be pure hype. But, I trust Jen’s advice. I’m pretty sure she’s investigated more of England – and more recently – than I have.)

Closer to home (currently the U.S.), I’m interested in ghost reports around Niagara County in upstate New York.

I believe that part of the U.S. may have many undiscovered haunts… more than most other parts of the country.

Here’s one recent article: Niagara County is home to many ghosts, part II.

In that story, I’m most intrigued by Cold Springs Cemetery in Lockport, NY. I don’t see much about it, online, and – as of late November 2017 – no YouTube videos about its ghosts.

To me, that suggests a site that hasn’t been over-investigated… yet.

But, it seems to be a private cemetery, open to people who own cemetery plots, and only between 8 AM and 8 PM. (See site info: Cold Springs Cemetery.)

That might dampen my enthusiasm, but the Lockport area offers some great investigation sites. For example, Lockport Caves was featured in an episode of Ghost Hunters, and on Off Limits.

The following video shows some of the area’s highlights. (Info starts around the 1:03 mark, and Lockport is more prominently mentioned around 4:55.)

Mix abandoned buildings, a labyrinth of tunnels, a tragedy or two, plus lots of water… that’s exactly what I look for, as a ghost hunter.

I’m not sure how often the caves (and nearby building sites) are open for ghost tours, except at Halloween. If I were in the area, I’d organize a group of interested ghost hunters, and ask the tour company about specialty tours for investigators.

Those are a few recent ghost hunting news articles that interested me. Several feature locations I didn’t know about, and I’d like to explore.

If you’ve visited any of these places and have insights, I hope you’ll share your comments at Hollow Hill.

Ghost Hunting without Equipment

This is one of the first of my re-issued Hollow Hill podcasts.

Ghost Hunting podcast - Hollow HillIn this 16-minute podcast from November 2009, I talked about using your five (or six) senses to investigate haunted places. I also shared other ghost hunting tips.

Some things have changed in the eight years since I recorded this. (Okay, a lot has changed, but the info in this podcast is still valid, with a few notable exceptions.)

For example, as of 2017, the K-II isn’t the only good EMF meter.

EMF Ghost MeterIn fact, right now (late 2017) I like the Ghost Meter better than the K-II. (Also, the Ghost Meter costs about half as much as a K-II meter.) In “seance mode,” the Ghost Meter been surprisingly accurate for yes/no responses.

(That’s one in a photo on the right. Mine has a clear case, not black. And yes, it is an “as seen on TV” product. Despite that, it seems to work as a real-time communication device. I’d trust it far more than, say, a loosened flashlight/torch.)

Also, the Ovilus is available again. It’s far more sophisticated than it was in 2009. As of 2017, I’m testing its accuracy in a variety of on-site and remote experiments. So far, I can confirm that the Ovilus III can work remotely, with about 30% accuracy.

Other than that, most of this 2009 recording is still good information.

Yes, I still experience frustration when people miss seeing apparitions and other ghostly phenomena. But, since 2009, I’ve learned to accept that some researchers are going to hyper-focus on their ghost hunting equipment… and miss real hauntings.

Maybe this podcast will help. (It’s from HollowHillPodcasts.com.)

First, I talked about the importance of looking around and listening. I described the kinds of evidence you might see and hear.

Then, I shared an easy way to make your hands more sensitive to “cold spots” and exactly how to find them.

I also described the best ways to use dowsing rods, and whether or not you should investigate “lights out” at indoor locations. (In most cases, there’s not much reason to work in the dark, but there are exceptions.)

Related Links

Homemade Dowsing Rods – My article about how to make and use your own dowsing rods.

Joey Korn’s Dowsers.com – The only professional-grade dowsing rods I use.

Podcast by: Fiona Broome, the founder of HollowHill.com
Music: Zombie by Devin Anderson

A Fresh Approach to a Haunted Building’s History

This week, I was charmed by a CBS video about informal, modern-day archaeology.

Then I realized we could do this in many haunted locations, especially private homes and businesses, where the owners ask, “Who is that ghost?”

The video is less than three minutes long. I think it’s worth viewing if you’re actively involved in private investigations.

Though this kind of dig may not confirm anything, it might give you more clues about the history of the site. That could suggest a context for the haunting.

As I see it, this is a fresh research approach. It uses a little “informal archaeology” and it’s something almost anyone can do. You can include the site owners in this project, as well. (It might mean a lot to them, even more than it does to you.)

Since this kind of research is limited to areas like closets, it won’t disfigure the more visible parts of the home or business. That’s important.

(If you can’t watch that video, here’s a link to the related article: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/childrens-workshop-school-students-dig-up-treasures-from-closets-nyc/ )

Until I saw this video, I never realized how many historical clues could — literally — fall through the cracks.

If you try this (or have, in the past), I hope you’ll share results and insights. I’m very interested in whether this could be useful.

The site in the video is about 100 years old. So, this kind of dig — with permission, of course — could be useful at sites from the mid-20th century and earlier.