Halloween Ghost Hunting Checklist

Halloween can be a whirlwind for many ghost hunters.  Events, parties, investigations… and then the big night itself.  Are you ready?

Ideally, Halloween research plans are prepared far ahead of Halloween night.  However, even if you’ve been too busy, it’s not too late to organize your Halloween plans for ghost hunting success.

To help you, I’m sharing my own Halloween checklist.  I’ve used some variation of this, every year for the past dozen or so years.  I hope it’s useful and helps you make the most of Halloween ghost hunting opportunities.

Click here for the Halloween Ghost Hunting Checklist (PDF)

Halloween Costume Parties – Ghost Hunting Opportunities

Halloween costume parties can be opportunities to see ghosts.

I’m not kidding.

Of course, most ghost hunters will be at haunted sites on Halloween.

However, if you’re at a potentially haunted site and you’re attending a Halloween costume party, remain very alert.  It’s not just a fun social gathering… it’s an opportunity to encounter ghosts.

This possibility never crossed my mind until it actually happened to me.

In recent years, I’ve been one of the celebrity guests at the Official Salem Witches’ Ball in Salem, Massachusetts.  That popular Halloween costume party is usually held at the haunted Hawthorne Hotel in downtown Salem. More than half the partygoers wear costumes.

That hotel is at point #7 on my haunted Judges’ Line map.  If you’re spending the night, ask for room 325 or room 628… or any room on the sixth floor. According to reports, those are the most haunted sleeping rooms.

During the evening, I looked up from the ballroom floor to see figures standing at the mezzanine windows that overlooked the party.  Generally, they were people in the kinds of costumes you might see at Mardi Gras or any non-Halloween costume party  Now and then, the person would be in classic Colonial garb.

Usually, the person (or a couple of people) would sip their drinks while watching the party below.  Then, they’d stroll off and be replaced by others who wanted a “bird’s eye” view of the party.

However, a couple of times, I saw someone at one of those windows fade away into mid-air. The person didn’t walk away or duck down… they actually seemed to evaporate.

Generally, those people (or ghosts) were wearing fairly ornate Colonial clothing.  They didn’t stand out from the others at the party, except that their costumes looked a little more well-worn than others’ and sometimes they fit differently.  (Men’s jackets were more snug across the shoulders.  Women’s clothes were less form-fitting.)

It wasn’t until the figure faded from view that I realized I’d been looking at something ghostly.

If you’re at a party where you might see ghosts, here are some basics to remember:

1. You must be alert and in-focus.  This means no alcohol or anything that might dull your senses and alter your perceptions.

Likewise, be sure you’re well-rested before you arrive.  Get a good night’s sleep the night before, and eat a hearty lunch.  (Ordering a full, rich dinner might make you sleepy… eat just a light meal before the party.)

2. Watch the perimeter of the party, and glance regularly at doorways and windows.  Ghosts seem to prefer to watch the party from slightly outside it.  (However, I might have been elbow-to-elbow with a ghost and didn’t realize it.  That’s always a possibility.)

3. Blend in. Wear a costume, perhaps an authentic one from the time period of any expected ghosts.  You’ll want to catch the ghosts’ attention… but not because you’re in everyday clothing, holding a camera, a voice recorder and a K-II!

There’s no reason to choose between ghost hunting and Halloween festivities.  If you attend a Halloween costume party at a site that might be haunted, you may have the best of both worlds… no pun intended.

Halloween and Ghosts

Halloween and ghosts… what’s the connection?

Most ghost hunters insist that Halloween is the best night of the year for paranormal research.  (I’d add the last night of April as a close second, but Halloween is at the top of my list, too.)

The reason for Halloween being a “best” night for ghosts, is rooted in Celtic lore.

Whether you’re talking about ghosts, faeries, or anything that “goes bump in the night,” Celtic traditions focus on “between times.”

The Celts — and several other cultures — believed that spirits of all kinds could enter our world during those “betweens.”

In more modern terms, “the veil is thinner” at those between-times.

The between-time can be dawn or dusk; both are between day and night.

It may be midnight, or the “Witching Hour,” because it’s between the calendar days.

Or, at the last day of October, we’re between the end of the harvest and the start of winter.  In earlier times when the calendar was based on the agricultural year, the end of the harvest is like New Year’s Eve.  The Celtic word for Halloween night is Samhain (pronounced “SAHH-when”).

Keep in mind that, in Celtic history, Samhain wasn’t always Halloween night… the last night of October.  It was simply the night when everyone celebrated because the crops were finally harvested, and the agricultural year was over.  So, the actual date might vary by days or even weeks.

That between-times (or between-seasons) note is the same reason why the last night of April is good for ghost hunting:  Agriculturally, it’s a dramatic change of seasons.

That night is Beltaine in Celtic countries, and Walpurgisnacht in Germany and nearby countries.  It marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring… another “between” time.

For ghost hunters, that night can be nearly as productive as Halloween.

If you’re going to make the most of those between-times for ghost hunting, you’ll stack several “betweens.”

In other words, you’ll be at the haunted location on Halloween night and you’ll choose a between time for your research:  Dusk or midnight, or the following dawn.

However, keep in mind that ghosts aren’t the only entities associated with between-times.

Faeries are also known (or notorious) for appearing then, and sometimes wreaking mischief.  So, if you see something odd, don’t immediately assume it’s a ghost; it might be something else.

Because the veil may be thinner on Halloween, you may encounter energy or phenomena that are actually on the other side.   The spirit may not actually be in our world.

This is one reason why EVP results can be better on Halloween, as well as real-time communication with the “other side.”  Cameras can produce clearer anomalies, too.

However, the increased EMF levels on Halloween night can drain batteries in your voice recorder, cameras, flashlights, etc.  (This is one reason to carry a glow-stick as a back-up light source, and a film camera as a back-up for your digital camera.)

Be prepared for anything to happen on Halloween night.  It’s the classic “between” time, and ideal for your most chilling encounters with paranormal phenomena.

ghostbat

If you’re looking for Fiona Broome’s Halloween checklist for ghost hunters, visit her free downloads page.

Halloween’s Over… Now What?

Halloween is over. Many people figure they won’t go ghost hunting again until the warm weather returns.

They’re likely to might miss a great opportunity.

Pumpkin with candleGhost hunting doesn’t start (or stop) at Halloween.  October 31st isn’t a binary, on/off switch.

In fact, increased ghostly activity generally continues through the first week of November, and sometimes later. (Personally, I think paranormal “prime time” extends at least until November 15th.)

So, continue your outdoor investigations — especially at haunted cemeteries, battlefields, and hiking trails — until the weather is too cold.

HATE THE COLD? PLAN A SOUTHERN VACATION

Of course, not every area is bitterly cold in November.

For example, in some parts of the U.S., cooler temperatures mean greater outdoor ghost hunting opportunities. New Orleans’ French Quarter and Metairie cemeteries come to mind, immediately.

Also, when I investigated Texas haunts, the drier winter air reduced the chance of false orbs in photos. An added bonus: in winter, our team usually encountered fewer bugs, snakes and other annoyances.

In Florida, theme parks may have great ghost stories… if they admit to them, that is. (When you ask, phrase your questions carefully. Ask as if it’s all in fun. Avoid anything that might seem ghoulish.)

The Haunted Mansion at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom is a wonderful place to get “in the spirit” of ghost hunting.

Also, ask cast members about “George,” who might haunt the Pirates of the Caribbean gift shop and attraction.

Universal Studios’ theme parks have a couple of ghost stories. One of them is completely false. At least one other has some credibility. Verify these kinds of stories before looking for ghosts.

(Remember, theme parks take pride in their safety precautions. So, when you hear a terrible ghost story at a theme park, it’s probably fake.)

In the South in general, look for the oldest neighborhoods, the oldest cemeteries, battlegrounds and parks steeped in history. You’ll find plenty with great ghost stories.

I can personally vouch for the ghosts of Houmas House, and it’s a fun place to tour, anyway.

While many Southern locations can be crowded during the summer vacation months, they’re often blissfully quiet in winter.

IN COLDER CLIMATES

If your home is in the chilly north, don’t despair. You have options.

As the weather turns chilly, combine an outdoor investigation with an indoor one.  Start your evening with an outdoor research site. Then, when temperatures drop, investigate a second site, indoors.

For example, let’s say you’d like to combine ghost hunting and skiing in northern New Hampshire (USA).

You might start with a roadside marker like the Roger’s Rangers marker at Haverhill, NH. That’s a grim story and — as far as I know — the area hasn’t been thoroughly investigated. I’d expect some great EVP there.

From there, you’re about 30 minutes from the Norwich Inn. It can be a fascinating place to investigate with many credible ghost stories.

And, if you’re ready for skiing the next day, several ski resorts are within a short drive, including the Dartmouth Skiway.

Starting in November, many haunted hotels and B&Bs wish they’d had more Halloween publicity for their ghosts.  They may be eager to welcome you, especially if you might visit regularly or tell others about their ghosts.

MORE COLD WEATHER OPPORTUNITIES

Here are additional tips for continuing your investigations, no matter what the weather.

Haunted house in cold weatherLook for haunted theatres, hotels, restaurants, museums and haunted houses. Some may be busy during the holiday season. Others might be desolate, and perfect for a full investigation.

Wherever you go, ask people if they’ve heard any ghost stories nearby, or if they’ve ever encountered a ghost.

(In some areas, you’ll be overwhelmed with personal stories about living in haunted houses. Ask if you can investigate them.)

Don’t forget to investigate around Christmas, too. It can be more haunted than you expect.

Review last year’s investigations.  Re-read your notes, review your photos and EVPs, and see which sites should be revisited for more research.

Plan the upcoming year.  Include a ghost hunt at one location you’ve been planning to visit, but haven’t investigated yet.  If it’s a popular location, make your travel reservations now.

Research other locations using new and popular ghost-related books.

Also study 19th century histories of your vicinity, looking for references to ghost stories, haunted places and other paranormal phenomena.

Practice using your ghost hunting tools.  The better you understand them, and the easier it is for you to use them in the dark, the more you’ll be able to observe during future ghost investigations.

If it’s warm enough, resume outdoor investigations around April 30th.  In many cultures, that’s a night when — like Halloween — the ghosts walk among us.  Discover Walpurgisnacht (or Walpurgis Night) traditions and make the most of them on this second eerie and magical night for spirits.

Ghost hunting doesn’t stop at Halloween. If you’re enthusiastic about paranormal research, you’ll find plenty of investigation sites during the colder months.