Ghost Hunting Guidelines

No one can enforce ghost hunting rules. Not for independent ghost hunters and ghost hunting teams, anyway.

Also, I cannot assume responsibility (or credit) for what happens during ghost hunts. Remember that ghosts aren’t as visible, dangerous and spectacular as the media portray them… but ghost hunting can be risky.

In my opinion, the small and subtle things can startle you the most. For example, it’s not always the eerie moaning noises that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, but the fact that the surroundings are far too quiet.

Never use movies or TV shows as guidelines for paranormal research. Never expect them to show what really goes on during ghost hunts, and don’t rigidly copy what they do.

Here are my strongest recommendations:

1. Above all, use your common sense.

2. Never go ghost hunting alone. Investigate with at least one companion.

3. Verify location, accessibility, safety, and related issues ahead of time. Check each site during daytime hours to identify parking, paths, and hazards. Carry a working flashlight, even during daytime ghost hunts.

4. Be sure you’re comfortable.

  • Dress for the weather and the location. Wear suitable clothing, including sturdy footwear.
  • Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately before ghost hunting, but don’t arrive hungry, either.
  • Do not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs before or during a ghost hunt.  (If you’re on medication that might impair your judgment, talk with your doctor about “hiking, after dark” and how risky that might be.)

5. Never trespass on private or posted property. Get clear and specific permission from the owners or authorities. If others have had problems with this, get permission in writing. (Bring your own form for the owner to sign. From my experience: it helps if you include a clause that frees them from all liabilities connected with your research.)

6. Leave immediately and cheerfully if the police or owners ask you to, even if the property is not posted. Provide photo ID if the police ask. Smiling helps.

7. If you become unreasonably frightened at any location — haunted or not — leave immediately. If you feel prompted to leave a site, always listen to your gut instinct.

8. Remember, you have more to fear from the living than from the dead. Many haunted sites are isolated. They’re attractive to people engaged in illegal activities. Use caution.

Also, since ghost hunting gained popularity, the field has occasionally attracted con artists. Be aware of the warning signs.

In addition, be aware of your personal space in dark settings. Rarely, a sexual predator takes advantage of the darkness to touch, fondle, slap, scratch, or behave inappropriately in other ways. If you suspect this is going on, step away from the person and speak up immediately.

9. As your mother taught you, never speak ill of the dead. Avoid sarcasm and jokes in haunted settings. Sometimes, angry spirits seem to “get even.”

10. Ghosts are not likely to follow you home. If you are frightened and leave a haunted location, the spirits generally do not go with you and they cannot affect your thoughts. (If something seems to follow you, it’s probably not a ghost.)

11. If you are troubled by unwanted thoughts after leaving a haunted location, relax. Eat some comfort food. Watch a happy movie or TV show. Put on some upbeat music and dance. Talk to a friend who understands ghost hunting. Spend some time in a church.

If the unwanted thoughts persist, see a professional for advice. (A minister or priest may be the best place to start.)

12. Ouija boards are not inherently evil. However, you don’t know who or what is directing the platen, and if the entity is lying.  In addition, Ouija boards and related devices have a high incidence of “opening a door” to unpleasant and dangerous entities. For those reasons, I recommend not using a Ouija board during investigations.

(In fact, don’t let anything “talk through” you. If you give it permission to use your body, you’re at risk.)

13. Never rely on mobile phones in haunted settings. Often, they won’t work. (Step across the street and the phone is likely to work again.)

14. Remember, you’re visiting a location that a ghost considers “home.” Be as polite as you would in someone else’s home.

15. Ghosts do not “possess” people without their consent. If someone or something seems to be taking control, tell it to stop. Put up your spiritual shields. Think rude thoughts at it, and generally picture yourself as a bigger bully than the spirit is. This does work in most cases.

However, if you – or someone you know – seems “possessed,” consult a member of the clergy, immediately. The problem may not be a ghost.

16. Generally, you cannot help a ghost. Most ghosts are tied to their earthly locations because they want to change something that happened in the past.

You can’t change the past, and most ghosts aren’t really interested in anything else. And frankly, some ghosts are like petulant children. They just like attention. Don’t take their ploys seriously.

If helping ghosts “cross over” is why you’re involved in ghost hunting, that’s a ministry. I admire people who do that. It can be a slow, time-consuming problem that tests your patience.

Be sure you’re working with a team that shares — or at least supports — your goals.

17. There are no documented cases of someone being seriously physically harmed by a ghost.

Minor injuries can happen. They’re more likely if you’re investigating sites that aren’t well maintained, or if you’re walking in the dark.

Also, some older sites have mold, mildew, and other air quality issues. At least one researcher has died from this. Invest in some kind of breathing protection, and keep it available in your ghost hunting kit.

If you’re worried about your safety, choose a different hobby. Ghost hunting should be fun.

18. It is reasonable to pay a fee to participate in a ghost hunting event or conference. However, on private ghost hunts, if someone is charging you money as if they’re providing a show… perhaps they are. Caveat emptor.

If you disagree with these guidelines, we urge you to create your own website and offer alternative opinions.

My opinions are based on over 30 years of paranormal research, but I don’t claim to “know it all,” and I welcome others’ opinions.

9 thoughts on “Ghost Hunting Guidelines”

  1. I am very interested in paranormal activities. I am fascinated by the spiritual realm and can’t wait to put my talents to full use.

  2. I gree up in a 22 room home built in 1929. My mother opened an antique shop that eventually soread to 12 rooms of the house. On occasion we would get an item in that brought with it a spirit. Most of the time when the item was sold the spirit left with it. Once in a while. They would linger a bit but eventually leave. Some friends of mine moved in to an old farm house. I started babysitting fir them when i was 12. From the minute they moved in they had occurrences. There was a locked room upstairs that they were not allowed to enter. At first thete would be things like hearing footsteps come down the stairs andactually see the door knob twisting in the buffet miror. Then the children would talk abiut seeing a lady and a man. The mans presence createf a putrid sulfer like smell. The kady smelled of strong roses. I smelled them and would get an eerie feeling. One day jennifer who was 3 was pointing at the lady in the purple dress. I took her hand abd told her to show ke the lady. We took one step forward and suddenky she staryed gaspung fir air. She was not asthmatic and haf no prior breathing problems. Not knowinf what to do i picked her up and ran out to the porch. She immediately got her breath back. From then on i wouldn’t babysit thete alone. So its fron those experiences that i have the interest in the paranormal. I believe my childhoid experiences have made me sensitive and more open to spirits presences.

  3. You said never to rely on mobile phones…does that include ghost hunting apps? I actually have had one that I think works better than others. Another you think the apps are phony or least most? Have you ever used any apps from your phone?

    1. Amanda, the issue isn’t whether mobile phones — and their apps — are worthwhile. It’s the problem of mobile phones and everything battery operated, failing. It’s common in haunted settings.

      So, if you’re in a large cemetery and plan to keep in touch with other team members — in other parts of the cemetery — by using text messages or anything else on your phone, don’t rely on it.

      Have a “Plan B” communications method. (Frankly, I like flashing light bracelets or necklaces. The ones with LED lights can usually be seen at a distance. And, though they, too, use batteries, they seem to fail less often than phones, cameras, voice recorders, and flashlights.)

      1. Just a comment on phone apps for ghost hunting for anyone that reads this in the future.

        The problem with ghost hunting apps is that unless you have the source code and can understand it, you don’t really know what the app is doing under the hood. Also, especially with Android, even an app with good intentions may not work properly due to the differences in phone hardware.

  4. is their any age issue to be paranormal investigator? do we have to get some degrees to become pro?
    thankyou for giving us usefull informtion. i am in 10th right now so most people say me to do parapsychology is it nesecceray?

    1. gurleen, I began investigating ghosts when I was in my early teens. A degree isn’t necessary, and the field of parapsychology can focus on debunking paranormal phenomena more than exploring it with an open mind. So, consider a college or university that offers interesting courses, whether or not they’re related to ghost hunting.

  5. For all i know there are people who can be dangerous to ghosts,and something on the lines of SPCA may be required.And as for companions,i’ve seen flicks where the companions turn out to be ghosts,scaring the shit out of hunters who become ducks without a hunt.I would suggest an led torch working on peltier effect and a radio with wind up clockwork mechanism for powering the device.

    1. Vivek, I’m chuckling over the SPCA idea. (Though, more seriously, I’ve no doubt that “provoking” can be abusive to spirits that feel trapped in this reality.)

      And, of course, a companion who turns out to be a ghost… that’s a great ghost story trope.

      I like the simplicity of a peltier effect sensor connected to something with signaling ability. I’m not sure how many of Bill Chappell’s devices (at use a similar approach.

      Food for thought, as usual, Vivek. Thank you!

      Cheerfully, Fiona

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