Ghost Investigations and Touching

“Touching” occurs at some ghost investigations.  The sensation of touch is among our five (or six) senses.

It’s one way that spirits may attempt to make contact… literally.

Normal touching

During a ghost investigation, you may feel:

  • Ghost hunting and touchingA ghostly hand touch or brush your face or neck.
  • A gentle brush, as if you’re walking through spiderwebs, even when you’re sitting still.
  • Isolated hot or cold areas, often measured with a thermometer.
  • A ghostly breath, particularly near the investigator’s face.
  • A slap, push, or shove.  Nothing too aggressive.
  • Something leaning into you, encouraging (or forcing) you to move in a certain direction.
  • Hair brushed, tugged or pulled.
  • Clothing grasped or tugged.
  • A sensation that the air is denser, as if you’re walking through water or molasses.
  • A feeling that the air is pressing on you, in one direction or from all sides.
  • Tapping on a shoulder or back.
  • Letters of the alphabet “written” with a ghostly finger, especially on the back of your hand or on your back.

There are many variations of these sensations.  All are routine – but can also be rare – at ghost investigations.  Usually, they’re nothing to be alarmed about.

If you’re uncomfortable with that, ask the ghost (or ghosts) to stop.  In most cases, they will.

Also, let others know what happened right away, so they can check the area for EMF surges or other paranormal activity.

Inappropriate touching

If the ghost is touching you inappropriately, you must bring that to the attention of others in your group.

This is a rare occurrence, but it happens now & then.  Though more women seem to be “touched” than men, it’s not a gender-specific issue.

It is not okay for a ghost to ignore your boundaries.  Keep in mind, most ghosts are from an era when touching — especially of a sexual nature — was even less acceptable than it is now.

Times have changed, and so have the cues

As the song, “Anything Goes,” reminds us:

“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
“Was looked on as something shocking.”

Likewise, in the early 19th century, a kiss was considered so significant, some expected a marriage proposal to follow immediately.

Through the early 20th century, a single man and woman would avoid being together (but otherwise alone)  in a room with the door closed.

That was against the rules of propriety.

By the late 20th century, the rules had changed again. In some eras and cultures – especially the hippie community – “love the one you’re with” was okay. Others sternly disapproved.

So, the range of what’s inappropriate is even broader when you’re dealing with a ghost.

Depending on his or her context, any touching could be a warning sign for investigators.

What ghosts expect

Some of our most colorful investigations (and ghost stories) are related to locations that were once bordellos.

Wunsche Cafe in Old Town Spring, Texas, is one.

Oilcan Harry’s in Austin, Texas, is another.

So, some ghosts may not realize that investigators – particularly women – cannot be treated as the people who once worked at the brothel.

If you have concerns, state the rules and boundaries out loud.

Also remember that women in trousers were regarded differently prior to the early 20th century.  In general, women’s bodies were far more concealed – by corsets, bustles and loose-fitting clothing – than today.

Language considered crude (in the ghost’s era) can also send a confusing signal to ghosts.  In fact, speaking directly to a ghost – without introducing yourself first – could be considered very forward, in their world.

The ghosts may not reply (since, as far as they’re concerned, you’re being rude) or think it’s an invitation for something you weren’t expecting.

It may help to announce your name, what you’re doing there, and the year you’re in, each time you investigate a different room or part of the site.

State the rules and boundaries out loud

It’s always better to be too careful than too casual, if you have concerns in a haunted location.  Set firm rules and boundaries at the start of each phase of the investigation, and explain them to the ghosts, out loud.

Then, if the ghost behaves inappropriately, he (or she) has no excuse for it. You’ll know right away that the ghost is ignoring your rules, if you’ve already made those rules clear.

If that happens, be sure you’re accompanied by several people, and that continued touching will not be tolerated.

Opportunistic touching

This additional issue is rare, but important.

Even one “problem” in our community is a risk to all of us, as professionals.

We’re often researching in the dark.

Groups split up to investigate.

It’s important never to be alone with someone you don’t know, or with someone who makes you even a little uncomfortable.

Even in a group or crowd, stay away from people who give off a “bad vibe” or seem to make excessive eye contact.

At the other extreme, be wary of anyone avoiding any eye contact at all.

If you feel very uncomfortable or uneasy, say something to a person in charge.

If the situation doesn’t improve, leave the investigation.

(Ask to be escorted to your car, by someone you trust.  Never leave a group by yourself, if you’re already anxious about your safety.)

Before accepting someone on your team, no matter how likable the person seems, check his or her background. Ask for ID, so you know what name to research.

When I recently heard about a ghost  investigator’s criminal record, I checked his name at the FBI’s National Sex Offender Public Website.  There was no record of his past problems, though I’d heard about them from an impeccable source.

I realized that I don’t know his real name. It’s routine for researchers to use a “pen name” to distance paranormal work from their personal and professional lives.

Also, nicknames can be very different from real names.  For example, Ted can be short for Theodore or Edward.  Nellie can be a nickname for Helen.  William is Bill and Robert can be Rob or Bob.  Elizabeth can be Beth, Betty, Eliza, Liz, and so on.

So, sex offender lists aren’t 100% reliable if you’re checking on someone you might be alone with.  (Check them anyway.) Always take precautions, and follow your “gut feeling” when you’re on a ghost tour or investigation.

I’ve always said: We have more to fear from the living than from the dead.

Use common sense

If your children want to go on a ghost tour or attend an event, they must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.  That’s not just about the tour guides, but a concern about others attending the tour or event, who might see the darkness as an opportunity.

Here’s the rule: If you feel that you’ve been touched (or had a physical encounter of any kind) -by a ghost or someone in physical form – say something immediately.

If you’re not comfortable with what happened, say that very clearly, too.

Don’t think it was all in your imagination.  Speak up, and let the other investigators (or guests) respond immediately.

After all, it might be a ghost manifesting so physically, we could catch an image in a photo. We might be able to record his/her voice in EVP, or measure other physical anomalies with EMF detectors, thermometers, and other tools.

Physical contact with ghosts is unusual in most haunted settings. Physical abuse by a ghost – slapping, pinching, or scratching – can happen, too, but it’s a major warning sign. That location isn’t safe, and the entity might be demonic.

Whenever it feels like someone has touched you, especially if it wasn’t necessary, speak up.

It might have been a ghost. Or it might have been someone in your group, and he, she, or they are using the cover of darkness for bad behavior.

Don’t just shrug it off.

Say something.

Which Cemeteries Are Haunted? Find Out Here.

Most graves aren’t haunted.  They’re simply tributes to a person’s life.

No spirit is there.

Sometimes, if you read the inscription on the memorial stone, you’ll discover that no body is there, either.

Nevertheless, cemeteries are among the best places for ghost hunting.   Many cemeteries include at least one or two very haunted graves.

That’s all you need, to develop your research techniques.

In my book, Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries – A How-To Guide, I explain how to find the best cemeteries for investigations.

You’ll also learn which graves are most likely to have ghostly energy.

Here are a few tips.

Choose 19th Century Graves

Book - Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries

Though I can’t summarize the entire book here, the age of a cemetery (and the graves in it) seems to make a difference.

I prefer to research at cemeteries with many graves from the 19th century or earlier.

Graves from the mid-20th century to the present seem to be less haunted.

Despite that, when police officers tell me about haunted graves, they’re almost always from that more recent time period.

I have no idea why.  It may be a simple perception difference.

Consider After-Death Expectations

Today, I think most people die with an understanding that something different and better will happen next.  And, for them, “crossing over” isn’t a big issue.

When people die with very specific expectations, some of them won’t leave the gravesite until that happens.

They might be waiting for St. Peter to escort them to pearly gates.  They may expect a particular kind of angel to arrive to guide them to Heaven.  They could expect a river to appear, and a silent boatman to guide them to “the other side.”

It all depends on the person’s spiritual context, and how sincerely (or stubbornly) they hold onto specific expectations.  In the 19th century and earlier, many people held rigid religious beliefs.  That may be one reason why those older graves are richer for ghost investigations.

The “Go to the light!” approach has become a cliche in some circles.

However, according to some psychics, if you say “go toward the light” to an unhappy spirit, they often respond with, “Oh! The light…? I do see a light.  Okay, thank you!”

Maybe that’s all we needed to do, to be helpful with that spirit.

Note: In most cases, talk to ghosts as if they’re alive. Just speak a little louder than you would to someone standing next to you. But, now and then, a whisper or even telepathic communication may be enough.

Other Haunted Places

It’s true that some spirits never reach the grave.   They may be waiting for something at the location where they died.  Some get as far as the cemetery gates and won’t go in.

Others wait at places they enjoyed during their lives, or at the location they would have gone to next, if they were still alive.

In Scotland, I once encountered a ghost who had died, and his spirit had continued to the location of his next appointment.

Of course, the associate heard of the death and never showed up, but the spirit was determined to wait until he did. (Or maybe I just witnessed a time slip?)

Frankly, we don’t know enough about ghosts to understand why they haunt some places and not others.

We also don’t know enough about how we perceive ghosts, to understand why some people sense more ghosts at cemeteries (or battlefields, or houses where tragedy occurred), and others don’t.

This can be a fascinating study, and if you have ideas or suggestions, I hope you’ll leave comments, below.

Note: If you’re searching online for specific haunted cemeteries, don’t just spell the word cemetery. Use alternate spellings like cematary or cematery.

At this site, you’ll find dozens of articles about ghost hunting in haunted cemeteries.  Read them all (and perhaps my book, as well) before expanding your search.

Are Ghost TV Shows Real?

In the past, and especially when “ghost hunting” TV shows became sensational, people asked me if the shows were real.

The simple answer is no, they’re not. They may represent what we do, as ghost hunters, but even the most authentic shows are edited to make them more entertaining.

Also, some people use ghost hunting TV shows as training for their own investigations. That can be risky, foolhardy, and — in some cases — miss the point of real ghost research.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

1. Lighthouse - photo by Horton GroupTV shows don’t represent how many houses we visit that aren’t haunted.  The majority of houses that seem haunted are either victims of high EMF or infrasound levels, or some other very normal (if odd) explanation.  Even if they are haunted, the issue is related to residual energy, not a ghost or an active entity.

2. Demons and malicious spirits are very rare.  If you think you’re being bothered by a demon, call an expert, not just the local ghost hunting club.  However, demons and evil entities appear at about 1% of the hauntings we’ve encounter… if that many.

3. Don’t let TV shows convince you that most ghosts are evil or dangerous.  They’re not. Watch the “ghostly” TV shows & movies of the past, and see how they portrayed ghosts.

Topper – the Cary Grant movies
Topper – the TV series
Ghost & Mrs. Muir – original movie with Rex Harrison
Ghost & Mrs. Muir – TV series (unavailable in Dec 09)
One Step Beyond – TV series (described as “historic accounts” of paranormal events) (Episode on YouTube (one of many))

 

4. Provoking ghosts?  Instead, look for someone like “ghostbait” from the Hollow Hill team:  Someone who, just by being there, seems to attract ghosts and hauntings.

5. ‘Tis the season!  When you’re watching “A Christmas Carol,” think how you might interpret Scrooge if you were at a location that he (and his ghostly companion) were visiting.  Would you think he’s a ghost that is scary, or needs help to “cross over”?

TV shows aren’t “reality.” (Even TV producers changed the term to “unscripted,” since they didn’t want to be sued for pretending a show was “real.”)

Don’t try to mimic TV shows or movies. Don’t take seriously any advice from paranormal TV shows. In many cases, the ghost hunter didn’t really say whatever-it-is; the advice was edited to give the audience chills.

Learn what ghostly phenomena really are. Study the history of paranormal research. Discover what psychics and ghost hunting equipment really do.

Explore haunted places with a pro. Events are a good starting point.

Never go ghost hunting alone. Always have a level-headed person with you, and — if you feel frightened during an investigation — leave at the first hint of danger.

TV shows can be fun to watch, but most of them don’t represent what we really do as ghost hunters. You’re seeing an edited version, and it was edited with a specific production goal in mind.

Real ghost hunting is different.