[MA] Haunted Salem – Celebrate magazine

Celebrate-article-illusDo you love Halloween?  ? At Hollow Hill, we do!

So, we were especially delighted to see Fiona quoted in the Halloween 2009 issue of Phyllis Hoffman’s “Celebrate” magazine.

Look for “Celebrate” — shown at right — wherever you buy magazines.

“Celebrate” is similar to Martha Stewart’s magazine, but with a wider range of activities… and far easier projects to make on your own.

The Halloween issue lists some of America’s best, haunted locations, including Salem (Massachusetts) on page 35.  There, you’ll see why Fiona recommends Salem for ghost hunting, and especially the Salem Inn (investigated during GhoStock 7) for a memorable night in a wonderfully haunted B&B.

The magazine also recommends some of Fiona’s other favorite haunts, including the Hotel Monteleone and Brennan’s superb restaurant, both in New Orleans’ French Quarter.

Whether you’re staying at home for Halloween, hosting a party, or going out for ghostly adventures, we know you’ll enjoy this magazine.  Look for it at your grocery store or public library, or order it from the publisher, linked below.

Official “Celebrate” magazine website: Hoffman Media

Joining a Ghost Research Team

cem1-pdMany people have asked me about finding and joining a local ghost hunting group.


First, be sure to read the articles in my free ghost hunting course, Introduction to Ghost Hunting.

From the second lesson:

Locate at least one ghost hunting group in your area. Search at Google, Yahoo, etc., using the name of your city or town, plus the word “ghosts.” If that doesn’t work, try your county name and the word “ghosts.” If that still doesn’t help, try your state or regional name, and the word “ghosts.”

If you don’t find a local group, or none of them are right for you, ask friends if they’d be interested in ghost hunting at dusk or later.

When think that you have enough people — and collective expertise — to try a ghost hunt, choose a well-known haunted site (a place that’s open to the public) and visit it shortly before dusk.

If you decide to start your own group, be sure to take my free course first, and carefully read Part 4. Learn what to think about when you launch a ghost hunting group.


If you’re asked to sign an agreement, make sure that you can leave the group easily — and without penalties of any kind — if it’s not a good match for your interests.

If there are any “non-disclosure” terms, don’t join that group.   Be suspicious of anyone who’s keeping secrets from others.


Groups may charge a small fee to cover their actual expenses.  However, be sure you know where the money goes and be certain that you’re getting your money’s worth.

Money keyDon’t pay anyone for anything at all, unless the price is extremely low.  It’s not that the course (or whatever) isn’t worth it, but if you’re on a shoestring budget or beginning this as a hobby, for now, there’s no reason to pay someone over $100 for.. well, anything.

Of course, weekend conferences and professionally-taught courses are an exception to the $100 rule.  But, even then, don’t spend money you can’t afford.

If you pay in advance for a class, a conference, or a ghost-related event, always get a written receipt with the refund information on it.  Don’t be uncomfortable about asking for one.

You can dispute payments made through PayPal, but it helps if you have either an email stating refund terms, or a screenshot of the group/event’s website page explaining refund policies.

Here are a few other points to watch for.

  • Don’t pay anyone an “investment” fee to be part of an entourage or work with anyone.  (At least one questionable investigator is using that term to solicit money.)
  • Don’t buy supplies for anyone or any group, with the idea that you’ll be paid back in the future or given special status.
  • Don’t believe anyone’s promises that they’ll make you a star or build a career for you. (That’s another line some con artists use.)

You can learn ghost hunting without spending a cent. It’ll take you more time than if you took classes with a professional (or a good, experienced group), but you can acquire a very solid foundation in paranormal research, on your own.


Have patience when you contact groups.  The good ones are overloaded with work, and under-staffed.

(Each year, the media begin contacting me in July for Halloween-related interviews.  So, don’t expect quick responses from any professional-level group, from September through mid-November.)

Affiliate with no group until you’ve worked with them for at least a month.   Well, except TAPS, maybe.  (That is, the real TAPS and their family of investigators, not some group that’s illegally using the TAPS name.)

Other than that… get a good sense of whether the chemistry works and if their views fit with yours, before you make any kind of commitment.


Most ghost hunting groups have a website.  You can usually find them with Google, combining “ghost hunting” and your town or city name.

If a group has been around for at least two or three years, and you respect the members, ask if you can join them for a few ghost hunts.

If you can’t find a local group, go to free events at bookstores, etc., related to paranormal topics.  (They’re most popular around Halloween.)  Ask friends at school or work if they’re interested in ghosts and haunted places.

Find at least two or three people to explore ghost hunting with you, and you’ll soon attract others with similar interests.

The vast majority of ghost enthusiasts are wonderful people and you’ll enjoy your research with them.  However, it’s smart to be cautious at first.

Use common sense.  Don’t be afraid to admit if you’re uncomfortable with a person or a group, or if a haunted location seems “not right.”  Leave immediately, and then see if you can figure out what bothered you.

Participate in ghost research and investigations as long as it’s fun and interesting.  That could continue for a month, a year, or much longer.

With no formal system of credentials and certification, this field can seem confusing to newcomers.   However, with just a little experience, you’ll soon learn the questions to ask and what to look for when you accompany a group on an investigation.

[NH] Tilton and Northfield… Ghost Hunting in the Rain

In Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, I mentioned one eerie cemetery in Northfield-Tilton, New Hampshire.  (It’s actually in Northfield, but the boundary between the two towns isn’t always clear.  Technically, the river divides the towns, but the post office considers both towns as “Tilton.”)

Several graves in that cemetery indicate good activity.

rain-northfield-cem-nightLast night, we took photos of rain orbs for my book, Ghost Photography 101.

Though most of the orbs in this photo are certainly rain, at least one might be something paranormal.  I think you can see how different it is from the others, in the photo at right.

Of course, it’s nearly impossible to tell “real” orbs from rain orbs in photos, so I’m making no claims.  However, we’ve seen consistent orbs around this group of graves.

When we arrived, the cemetery was too quiet.  Even the rain seemed entirely silent, though we parked in a paved area.  Also, though the area is lit by streetlights and light from neighbors’ homes, the back half of the cemetery always seems darker than it should be… even in the daytime.

I like cemeteries that feel as if you’re stepping back in time.  This is one of them, and it always feels entirely separated from the buildings — and era — around it.  Some might describe it as “creepy,” but I find it very relaxing and peaceful, despite the activity at some of its graves.

Here’s a “sneak peak” into another area of this cemetery, to check for elevated EMF, orbs, EVP, and so on.

You may be able to use this tip when you investigate cemeteries in your area.

nfield-3fingersOther researchers and I describe one grave as the “three pointing fingers grave.”  You’ll know which one it is, as soon as you see it.  Jacob Webber and his two wives are in that plot, and the headstone is unusual, showing three pointing fingers.

A finger pointing up usually indicates that the person ascended to Heaven.  A finger pointing down usually suggests the hand of God, ending a life early… but it can mean something less attractive. (It doesn’t take much imagination to figure that out: Heaven: up. Hell: down.)

When we see an adult’s headstone with a downward pointing finger, we immediately add that plot to our list of graves to investigate.  Those graves have a higher likelihood of activity compared with other, unremarkable graves.

I’m still investigating the spirits at the “three fingers” grave.  I know the second wife feels that she had the “last word” with that gravestone, and her energy definitely lingers.  With enough attention, she’s the kind of woman who might appear as an apparition.

There are several other active locations in this rural cemetery, and some may be even more active than the “three pointing fingers” plot.  However, this cemetery – Arch Hill Cemetery in Northfield, NH – is near several homes, so it’s difficult to investigate without attracting attention.

The good news is, this cemetery seems to be active during the daytime as well as after dark.  I recommend EMF meters and either a psychic, a Frank’s Box, or an Ovilus for research in this graveyard.  You could also use a K-II (or K-III) meter for real-time dialogue with the spirits.

Ghost Hunting in Tilton, NHVisually, it’s a lovely location, but — so far — it’s been difficult to photograph reliable anomalies due to nearby lights.

If you’re interested in Arch Hill Cemetery, or you’re ghost hunting in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, some of my stories were included in Rue Cote’s book, Ghost Hunting in Tilton, New Hampshire.

Rue’s research and ghost stories include Tilton, Northfield, and Franklin, New Hampshire. She also lists several haunts that are within an hour or so of Tilton.

Trapped Spirits and Provoking

Does provoking help ghost investigators?

Are ghosts really “stuck” in this world?  What holds them here?  What can you do to help ghosts “cross over”?

Should you worry about being trapped here later, as a ghost?

In this 13-minute podcast from 2009, I discuss those points and more.

Click this icon to listen to Trapped Spirits and Provoking: podcast

Podcast summary

person trapped behind glassSome ghosts seem trapped when they actually refuse to cross over.

Most “stuck” or “trapped” ghosts are in denial about having died. We can try to help them, but they usually need more time. They must realize what’s happened, and allow themselves to cross over.  Nothing else keeps them here.

A few have very specific expectations for what should happen next. Generally, they’re theology based.

Note: In this podcast, I don’t intend to sound flippant.

If I do, it’s because I feel exasperated when a ghost insists that he has to see angels with wings, and a choir, and golden or pearly gates… or he’s not going anywhere.

Or maybe he’s waiting for a boat, and a boatman named Charon, and the River Styx.

Or, he has some other very rigid, fixed ideas of what the afterlife should look like.

Meanwhile, it seems like nobody – including his waiting family, on the other side – can change his mind.

Thankfully, the vast majority of ghosts remain here of their own free will, visiting us for a reason. Sometimes, they have unfinished business we can assist with.

A few lessons to learn from anguished spirits: The importance of resolving anger, and focusing on what’s important.

(I’m reminded of the late David Cassidy’s final words, “So much wasted time.”)

Is provoking okay?  I’m opposed to it. I don’t like provoking spirits, just as I don’t like playground bullies.  In fact, I consider provoking rude.  So, I avoid it. (In very rare, extreme situations, it may be necessary.)

The MP3 URL is: http://traffic.libsyn.com/preview/hollowhill/HollowHill-stuck-ghosts-and_provoking.mp3

You can subscribe to Hollow Hill podcasts at iTunes, or listen on your computer (or any MP3 player) at HollowHillPodcasts.com

Originally recorded on 28 Aug 2009 by Fiona Broome.

Intro & concluding music: Zombie, by Devin Anderson.


Hollow Hill Podcasts
Hollow Hill Podcasts

Looking Back – Ed and Lorraine Warren

People have asked my opinion of Ed and Lorraine Warren.  Here’s my reply.

Ed and Lorraine Warren have been — together and as individuals — vital to the development and popularity of this field.  Without their work, I don’t think there would be a “Ghost Hunters” TV show, etc.

I can say the same about Hans Holzer, Andrei Puharich, and many other 19- and 20th-century paranormal researchers, as well.

I’m not overlooking problems with their early research techniques.  We learn through trial-and-error:  There will be errors — and plenty of them — while any field is becoming understood and codified.

ironstoneMy articles (published in 2000, before ghost hunting developed its current popularity) about one of Ed and Lorraine’s first investigations — the Ocean-Born Mary story — are an example of early research problems.

However, we’re looking back on research in the mid 20th century. It’s easy to forget how little was available to paranormal researchers.

Ed and Lorraine didn’t have the Internet as a resource. They didn’t have my 30+ years of experience with historical and genealogical research.  It’s easy to point out the shortcomings of others, when they didn’t (or don’t) have the resources that can make a huge difference in how a story is told.


I was sometimes troubled by the business model that Ed and Lorraine used. I said so at the time.  However, there are no simple answers to the money issue.

In a perfect world, spiritual researchers — including ghost hunters — would be supported as many religions have been, by voluntary donations from their believers.  Without that kind of funding, it’s difficult to work in this field.

Many people view our work as spiritual, and accuse us of being mercenary when we try to recover the money we spend on research, which is largely unseen by the public.  Also, they may not realize what it costs us to travel to help clients… many of whom have reached such a desperate emotional state (from living with hauntings or even demon attacks), they’ve already lost their jobs.

Our options are limited, and some are slippery slopes.


We can become “entertainers” …which can require compromises to build and maintain a fan following, or to meet the demands of ruthless managers and over-zealous producers.  While we create some problems ourselves, others are built around us without our permission and sometimes without our knowledge.

It’s a challenging field to navigate.

Ghost hunters can charge significant fees from clients who are able to afford it; a 2009 poll at HollowHill.com showed that some people were doing that, though they were in the minority.

We can cover our ghost hunting expenses with related part-time or full-time activities, including:

  • Writing articles and books.
  • Teaching classes and workshops.
  • Providing readings.
  • Speaking at events, or even hosting them.
  • Creating and selling products related to ghost hunting.

Or, we can maintain regular jobs, though that takes valuable time away from our research and the time we could use helping others.  (Most friends who’ve starred on ghost-related TV shows have kept their day jobs.  Some TV shows pay only an undisclosed “stipend.” It may not even match minimum wage levels.)

As I said, there are no easy answers to this dilemma.


In recent years, I’ve softened my views towards 20th-century pioneers in paranormal studies.  Each of them has left an important legacy.

I am grateful to Ed and Lorraine Warren for facing the skeptics and vehement critics, and maintaining a firm belief in what they were doing.  I’m thankful that they conducted so much research, and were forthright about what they did and the conclusions that they reached.

Their integrity made it possible for us to review their work in the light of additional facts and tools developed in the 40 or so years since they began studying ghosts and haunted places.

This field wouldn’t be where it is without people like the Warrens. For that, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

Remember that Joshua Warren is not related to Ed and Lorraine Warren.  I’m not sure he’s actually made that claim, but I’ve been told he’s not always quick to deny the connection, either. (I published this article in July 2009. In May 2014, he replied, saying ” I have never once ever allowed that idea to persist.”)


Were Ed & Lorraine’s methods perfect?  No.  (Ghost hunting tools and techniques still aren’t perfect. I’m not sure they ever will be.)

They did the best that they could with the tools that they had, the few sites they had free access to, and what little was understood in that era.

For example, no one carried an EMF meter during early ghost hunts.  Researchers weren’t aware that elevated EMF — from very normal sources — can disorient people and cause them to behave in odd ways.

Today, we check for electrical wiring and other sources of EMF, before leaping to any conclusions about paranormal influences.

In the early 21st century, we’re closer to understanding ghosts and hauntings, but I expect we’ll be harshly criticized by those who follow us 20, 40, or 100 years from now.


When someone asks my personal opinion of Ed and Lorraine Warren as a ghost hunting team, I reply in three parts:

At first, I was dazzled by them.  In the mid-to-late 20th century, they were pioneers in a very exciting field.

When I later examined their work, using tools available decades later, I was disappointed when I could disprove some of what they said.  That cast a harsh light on their work.  Things that I’d believed as a child turned out to be false. That can embitter anyone.

Fortunately, I continued my research and reached a more balanced perspective.

Today, looking back on people like Ed & Lorraine Warren, I’m tremendously grateful for their work.  I was merely an “early adopter” of this research.  They were among the innovators.


The name “Amityville Horror” wouldn’t be well-known without the Warrens.

The Warrens were instrumental in bringing ghosts and hauntings to the world’s attention.  They opened the door for anyone — with or without prior experience in this field — to conduct paranormal research.

That research has contributed significantly to what we know about ghosts and hauntings.  And, by making ghost research more accessible to everyone, pioneers such as Ed & Lorraine Warren built the foundation for our work today.

That is their true legacy, and I’m grateful for it.