Notes on What Are Ghosts Made Of?

What are ghosts made of?What are ghosts made of, and why do ghost hunters notice EMF surges at active, haunted places?

That’s the topic of a June 2018 article at Higgypop, What Are Ghosts Made Of?

It’s an unusually good article, though I heartily disagree with some claims in it. (I’ve written a general review at my author blog, FionaBroome.com.)

But, certain parts of the Higgypop article are worth repeating for ghost hunters.

The first is how the Higgypop writer distinguishes intelligent (active, sentient) hauntings from residual energy hauntings:

There’s a belief within the paranormal world that some ghosts are intelligent and capable of interacting with their surroundings, and then there’s residual hauntings which are said to be merely events from the past being replayed.

Residual hauntings are thought to be an imprint of energy that has been left behind by someone who suffered a tragic, traumatic, premature death, usually a murder, suicide or execution.

I agree with most of that, but I don’t believe all residual energy hauntings connect directly with someone’s death.

In the past, I’ve recommended singing “Happy birthday to you” in dining rooms and kitchens, to see whether anything happens. You could try “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” in front hallways, dining rooms, and immediately outside the front entry to an estate, too.

Neither of those have anything to do with death or even trauma. Both of those songs have triggered ghostly results at a surprising number of haunted sites.

The Higgypop article also shares an interesting insight related to residual energy hauntings:

The phenomenon is known as “stone tape theory” due to the belief that energy is captured and stored like a video recording in the surrounding bricks, woodwork, stone and possibly even the soil. When the conditions are right, these materials release this energy and you sense or see the event occur in exactly the same position as it did years ago.

But then, I disagree with the next part of that article:

As residual hauntings represent nothing more than a reflection of the past, you can’t communicate with them. The visions seen are not aware of their surroundings. They cannot interact with you and are not aware of your presence.

For me, “communication” means anything my team or I do, which results in a cause-and-effect reaction at the haunted site.

While residual energy hauntings don’t seem to interact with us as a sentient, “intelligent” ghost would, I believe that changes in the surroundings – an anniversary, a time of day, etc., as well as triggers used by  researchers – can create a cause-and-effect result.

Yes, maybe I’m delving too deeply into semantics.

Mostly, I don’t want new researchers to write off residual energy hauntings as something that are entirely hit-or-miss. Some of them are far more predictable than that. Triggers can work with residual energy hauntings.

Most of the next part of the article is good:

When it comes to intelligent hauntings it’s a little different. These types of hauntings are the classic “ghost”, they can reportedly move objects, push or touch people, slam doors and even throw objects across a room. So clearly when they manifest there is some kind of physical force behind them.

However, since some people seem to be able to move matter with their minds (psychokinesis), I balk at the idea that ghosts “clearly” have a physical force behind them.

Despite my ambivalence about some claims in this article, I agree with the conclusion:

Perhaps the truth is, it doesn’t really matter. While some ghost sightings can be written off as hoaxes, the majority of ghost sightings come from people who genuinely believe they have seen something supernatural. So whether ghosts are electromagnetic energy, a reflection of the past, or a trick of the mind, you can’t take the experience away from someone who has witnessed a ghost.

You can read the full higgypop article at:

https://www.higgypop.com/news/what-are-ghosts-made-of/

Also, I’m interested in your thoughts about these topics, especially as they relate to ghost hunting.

Ghost Hunting? Leave Nothing!

Many ghost hunters routinely carry (and use) ghost hunting equipment. The following story explains why you should always double-check the site (and your backpacks) to be sure you’ve left nothing behind.

Ghost hunting? Leave nothing!Of course, this isn’t just about ghost hunting equipment.

The list could include food wrappers, muddy footprints, and anything else that wasn’t there when you arrived.

Just as when you’re at hiking trails and campsites, the rule should be “leave nothing behind.”

The following excerpt from a news story is a cautionary tale.

Basically: before leaving the investigation site, a team forgot to double-check their ghost hunting equipment. They left an EMF-related device behind.

Then, the police thought it was a bomb or a bomb triggering device. So, the police destroyed it with a water cannon.

Here’s part of the news story:

“Paranormal investigators in Windsor, Ontario, say they’re sorry for getting the bomb squad involved after leaving a ghost-hunting device lying “around.

“This week, police were called to Mackenzie Hall, a historic building in west Windsor, after people came across a suspicious black box with a blue light and a red wire sticking out.

“Investigation revealed that a suspicious item was left in a room within the building,” police said in a news release.

“Mackenzie Hall was built in the 1850s by Alexander Mackenzie, who later became the second prime minister of Canada. Though the building today serves as a cultural centre, it once functioned as a courthouse and jail where public executions took place.

“That made it the perfect place to go hunting for ghosts, according to Jen Parker, the assistant director of the Listowel Paranormal Society.

“Parker said she only realized what had happened after police called her to ask about the EMF sensor. She said police told her they evacuated the building, then destroyed the device when a bomb disposal robot blasted it with a water cannon.

“Parker said her group of seven ghost hunters is going to start using an equipment checklist on future investigations so as not to repeat the mistake.”

Read that full news article:

https://www.buzzfeed.com/ishmaeldaro/bomb-squad-called-for-emf-sensor-left-by-ghost-hunters

And here’s a related story. (I can’t imagine how embarrassed the ghost hunting team must be, to see so much negative publicity. They have my sympathy.)

Bomb Squad Scare Highlights Missteps of Modern Ghost Hunting

 

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.

Ghosts in the News: Nov 2017 [1]

cemetery at HalloweenCatching up on the Halloween surge of ghost-related new stories, a few articles caught my attention.

First, I noticed that several popular locations are increasing police surveillance, especially around Halloween.

Michigan’s Northville Psychiatric Hospital is one of them. It has an increased “no tolerance” approach to trespassers.

That article said:

The site is popular with paranormal explorers and ghost hunters. And with the Halloween season in full swing, police are beefing up surveillance at the site.

The property is full of asbestos, broken glass and other hazards, authorities said.

Whether or not a site is off-limits and patrolled, asbestos is always a concern at older, decaying sites. The cumulative effects of exposure can be fatal. Take no chances.

Fundraisers

Around Halloween, several ghost hunters provided demonstrations and tours to raise funds for charities. For example, a Racine (Wisconsin) group, Racine Paranormal, held a fundraiser for hurricane relief.

If you’re part of a ghost hunting team, consider a similar fundraiser next Halloween. (Or, schedule one around Christmas. A surprising number of people are alone at the holidays. A fundraising event might be a wonderful distraction for them, and a big help to struggling communities and nonprofits.)

Ghost Hunters: The Next Generation?

I’m optimistic about the next generation of ghost hunters. I really liked an article about high school ghost hunters in Griffith, Indiana (near Chicago, IL).

Here’s part of it:

Fueled by the popularity of paranormal pop culture, such as “Ghost Hunters” and easy access to portable online electronics, the club now has 94 members among juniors and seniors — 25 percent of the school’s upperclassmen.

“When you go out on these things, you go out there expecting nothing to happen,” said Pete Ghrist, “and when something happens, it’s awesome.”

“We don’t rid people of ghosts,” he said. “It’s not a ‘Ghostbusters’ type of thing.”

“Slimer’s not going to come out of the wall and knock you over,” he said. “You’re not going to see some big apparition come out of the wall. Every once in a while, you get surprised. Something really cool happens.”

I especially like seeing cross-generational interest in ghost hunting. And, as I’ve often said, police officers are among our best resources.

Note: In November, the students will be visiting Old Lake County Jail. It sounds like a good investigation site.

Old Lake County Jail

I haven’t watching this video all the way through (it’s around 30 minutes), but the jail looks interesting. (The investigation starts at about 2:53.)

Open-Minded Skeptics

After that, I found a refreshingly skeptical article about ghost hunting tools, Verify: Is there a science behind ghost hunting? The video (and article) from a Dallas (TX) ABC station, WFAA, manages to lean towards skepticism but avoid most snark.

From that article, after mentioning results from a spirit box (or something like a Frank’s Box or Shack Hack):

Biddle says, what we’re hearing are random snippets from ads and DJ’s.

“And if you combine it with the expectations of a paranormal group that’s in there asking questions, over and over. And that’s just waiting for something that sounds like a word. Or sounds like an answer that fits what they expect to hear,” he says.

Kenny’s studied a lot of ghost hunters. His biggest problem is most do not use technology in a scientific way. Mostly, they’re hooked on the thrill.

“You gotta go in and find a cause. If something goes off and you can’t explain it, that does not mean it’s unexplainable,” he says.

That last line changed my mind about what seemed an annoying, “Yeah…? Prove it!” attitude.

The fact is, we do need to debunk every anomaly, if we can. And, if something happens that we can’t explain, that doesn’t mean it’s unexplainable.

But which explanation makes the most sense? It’s not as easy as saying “Occam’s Razor.” We can’t assume that everyone’s on the same page.

Remember that hard evidence — photos, EVP, cold spots, EMF spikes, etc. — aren’t the only evidence.

Personal Evidence Matters

Always consider personal reactions and connections.

On a foggy night, maybe that weird mist by your (late) Great-Aunt Hazel’s favorite rose bush is just moisture.

That’s one explanation.

But, maybe you always had a certain feeling when Great-Aunt Hazel entered the room, or you always knew it was her call, even before the phone rang.

If you had that same feeling right before the mist appeared, or as it arrived, maybe the mist was a greeting from Great-Aunt Hazel.

That’s a personal decision. In our research, I believe it’s important to consider credible impressions.

Those impressions are another reason to avoid total focus on your ghost hunting equipment. If you’re in hyperfocus, studying an electronic device, you might miss seeing a shadow person.

Or, if you’re shouting at a (loud) spirit box, you could miss a ghostly whisper from the darkest corner of the room.

You might easily explain your exhaustion, shoulder aches, or uneasy “gut feeling.” But… what if it’s actually a ghost trying to make contact?

In the past, I’ve spoken about baseline checks.

Routinely repeat them during every investigation, if only to pause and shift your focus away from gadgets.

Also note all personal reactions, no matter how small. When you exchange notes with other researchers, those “trivial” reactions may reveal a pattern that fits the site’s ghostly history.

Summary

From what I’m seeing, ghost hunting is still thriving. Even better, new generations of ghost hunters are joining us. They’re genuinely interested, not just copying something they saw on Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures.

Though a few people are still sensationalizing this field, most of us (new and old) are serious about paranormal investigations.

People are more skeptical about ghosts (in a healthy way), but also willing to explore new research techniques. That makes ghost hunting an evolving, exciting field.

It’s a good time to be a ghost hunter.

Ghosts in the News: Oct 2017 [1]

‘Tis the season… for news about ghosts and haunted places.

It’s an interesting way to look at haunted places.

Oh, I doubt many (perhaps most) assumptions about New Orleans’ LaLaurie Mansion. I’m not sure it’s especially haunted. (Several residents said it’s not.) Also, some of the legends don’t fit the owners’ real history.

But, the original LaLaurie Mansion was certainly the site of traumatic events and a horrible (and fatal) fire. So, some ghosts may linger.

In the Seattle Times article, like the following quote from Colin Dickey, author of Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places. (I’m reading that book, right now. It’s not what I’d expected. Lots of history. Lots of folklore. All of it connected to famous — and infamous — haunts.

Here’s the quote I like:

“Ghost stories in many ways are a way for us to approach our own history,” Dickey said, “and our own history is complicated.”

I’m going to think about that. At first glance, I’ll admit that most serious ghost investigators are not simple, take-life-as-it-comes people. Most are unusually bright, well-read, and interested in a wide range of topics.

The related podcast is thought-provoking. Though I disagree with Dickey on some points, he has some fresh views worth considering: https://apnews.com/afs:Content:1446410075/Episode-23:-What-haunted-houses-tell-us-about-ourselves

What interested me are the 28% who said they have lived in a haunted home. (I’m in that group. I’ve lived in two that might be haunted, plus a third that was absolutely bizarre.)

I may try a survey like that, myself, to see how many people pursue ghost hunting because they’re already familiar with life in a haunted house.

  • Next, this may not be the world’s only haunted canal boat ride — and I’m not sure if it’s genuinely spooky — but if I were around Richmond, Virginia, I’d happily spend $2 for the experience: Haunted canal boat rides in Richmond.
  • After that, reading the latest ghost-related articles, I realized I’ve never questioned the word “boo!” Maybe I should have.

Fortunately, Mental Floss may have an answer. In their article, Why Do Ghosts Say ‘Boo’?, they report:

“…the word had a slightly different shade of meaning a few hundred years ago: Boo (or, in the olden days, bo or bu) was not used to frighten others but to assert your presence.”

And later, in that same article, explain a more recent use of the word:

“And by 1738, Gilbert Crokatt was writing in Presbyterian Eloquence Display’d that, ‘Boo is a Word that’s used in the North of Scotland to frighten crying children.’ “

  • And then there’s the video filmed earlier this month (Oct 2017) inside a Cork City (Ireland) school. It’s been viewed over 7 million times.

I laughed out loud at one point. No, this isn’t what a real haunting looks like, though it’s entertaining.

But, a Today.com article offers an explanation for the school’s haunted reputation:

“‘The school is built on a site known as Green Gallows,’ Wolfe said. ‘In the 19th century, criminals were hanged here. We only found that out on Monday. The pub nearby is actually called the Gallows.'”

A leading Irish education site calls it Gallows Green, but — no matter what the name — it’s adequate reason for ghosts at the school.

They’re just unlikely to manifest in such preposterous ways.

Those are the ghost-related articles that interested me today. I’m sure there will be more as Halloween approaches.

If you find any fascinating news articles, I hope you’ll leave the URLs in comments.