Joining a Ghost Research Team

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

THE BASICS

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.

COMMITMENTS

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.

THE MONEY QUESTION

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.

MAKING CONTACT

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.

IN GENERAL

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.

Tilton and Northfield, NH – 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