Ghost Hunting and Meals

Should you eat before ghost hunting?  Can a full (or empty) stomach affect your research results?

Answers will vary but, in general, it’s wise to eat a light meal or snack before leaving for an investigation.

If you’re hungry, you’re not at your best.  Worse, your growling stomach can affect EVP recordings.

At the other extreme, if you’ve eaten too much and you’re uncomfortable, you won’t be able to focus on your research.  Keep your team members in mind if your indigestion will be obvious to them, too.

Breath mints are a good idea if your meal featured onions or garlic.  A glass of tomato juice can also offset a poor dietary choice.

Speaking of garlic: Some people think garlic repels all entities, not just vampires.  I’m a garlic enthusiast, and — so far — that hasn’t affected my research.  Your results may vary.

Most exercise coaches and meditation experts recommend eating a large meal no closer than two hours before an activity.  Physically and mentally, that’s smart preparation for ghost research, too.

A light meal — particularly one with “live” food such as a salad — might improve your focus and research results.  For most evening investigations, I’ll usually eat a very light supper about an hour before the research begins.

Carry healthy, light snacks with you.  Sometimes, a ghostly encounter can deplete your own energy. Take a break. Restore your energy with healthy munchies.

  • Fruit juice can provide a quick lift. I like fresh squeezed (not from concentrate) orange juice. Others prefer apple juice or something nutrient-rich like blueberry juice.
  • Chocolate can settle nerves. Some people insist that chocolate counteracts excess negative energy at a haunted site.  However, monitor your sugar intake; the buzz can make you easily distracted.

It probably doesn’t need to be said: Never consume alcohol before or during an investigation.  That’s not just about weakened judgment and response times. Its caloric content can affect you as sugar does, too.

My basic suggestions are:

  • Eat lightly before conducting research.
  • During the investigation, healthy snacks can be helpful.
  • Staying hydrated — with water or juice — is important, too.

Join your team for a hearty meal — and discussion of your experiences — after you leave the research site.

That’s the best combination for most researchers.

When a Loved One Might Be a Ghost

Several people have asked if a recently departed family member or friend might be a ghost.  (A few have asked if a pet can return as a spirit. Yes, I believe pets are as much “family” as their human companions are.)

The following is part of my reply to a reader whose mother had passed away and now seems to be returning — as a spirit — to the home where she lived.

My personal experiences and my work in this field lead me to believe that people definitely can (and often will) visit friends and family after passing on.In most cases, it’s not necessarily anything negative.  The person has an interest in those who are still living in this plane of existence.  Or, the person has something to communicate.  Maybe the spirit is simply having fun… which can be received a variety of ways, depending on the spirit’s sense of humor.

The intensity and duration of these experiences seem to diminish over time.  My mom visited me for several weeks after she passed away. Then, she was gone for awhile.

A month later, she showed up at an event where I was speaking, in a country she’d barely visited. She spoke very clearly to me — in her own voice, across a room — through Christopher Moon’s “Telephone to the Dead” (aka, a “Frank’s Box”).

I’m not sure which among us was more amazed when that happened… including my mother, who seemed a little intimidated by the device.

Generally, when a spirit is around you, I think it’s polite to talk out loud to her (or him) as if you could still see the person.  After all, it’s still the same person, and nobody likes to feel ignored.

If she’s doing anything that you like, say so.  If she’s making you uncomfortable, talk about that, too.

Though spirits seem to retain their basic personalities — and sometimes an occasional eccentricity or habit — they seem to recover a lot of their mental abilities from before they were injured or became ill.

Forgetfulness seems to be common. I think that’s because the spirits are discovering a very cool, exciting new realm. They forget things because there’s so much to learn and explore.

I don’t think spirits retain any limitations from their earthly lives… not unless they still feel defined by them. That can change as they get more used to their new lives.

Of course, all of this is my interpretation of what I’ve experienced, and what I’ve learned from others’ stories.  Some of my conclusions may be wrong, but… well, they work for me.

In any potential haunting or visit, the most important thing is to treat the spirit as if he or she is still alive… because, after all, the spirit is. Don’t ignore it or be frightened of it.

Talk normally, explain how you feel about the visits. Behave as if you’re talking to them on the phone but the connection isn’t perfect.  Let them know that they can probably hear you just fine, but you can’t hear them clearly.

It’s nothing to be frightened or worried about.

In fact, I think it’d be very strange (and frankly not fair) if people passed away and could never return to visit friends, family and places they most loved.

I hope that helps.

As I said in that email, this is just my opinion about one very normal type of “haunting.”  I might be wrong, or it may not apply to all situations.

Start with the idea that spirits (and ghosts) are normal, not scary or dangerous.  Movies, TV, books, stories and even some websites have sensationalized visits from the other side… aka “hauntings.”

The only time a haunting is a problem is if it’s a significant issue for you or for the spirit that seems to be lingering here.

Otherwise, I don’t think there’s anything odd or unusual about someone visiting friends, family, or favorite places.  In fact, it’s rather nice.

Ghost Hunting with All Five Senses

Ghost hunters often rely on sight and hearing, and sometimes a “sixth sense” to detect ghosts.

Most experienced ghost investigators are familiar with ghost photos, apparitions and EVP (ghostly recorded voices), at least in theory.

That covers the senses of sight and hearing.

Many people have had a chilling physical encounter — being touched, slapped or scratched — at haunted sites, too.

That’s the sense of touch.

However, what about those other two senses?

Taste – ghostly flavors?

Some investigators describe different tastes at certain hauntings.  For no apparent reason, they’ll notice a bitter taste or as if blood is present.  Others talk about a sweet taste like marmalade or honey.

I’m not sure how we could use that in our investigations.  (If you have ideas, share them in comments, below.)

In a setting where taste had been among the phenomena, I’d try deliberately creating that same sense of taste.  (Well, it’s probably not wise to replicate the taste of blood.)

By using foods to trigger or mimic the ghostly taste, it might put investigators “in tune” with the spirits, and encourage more vivid manifestations.

Or… it might not.  At the moment, this is purely theoretical; it’s just a guess.

Smell – attracting ghosts with fragrance

Recently, a member of the Paranormal Investigators of North Kitsap asked me about using fragrance to attract ghosts.  That’s a great idea!  Will it work?  I have no idea.  It’s definitely worth some experiments.

Many male ghosts seem to be accompanied by the aroma of pipe or cigar smoke.  Some female spirits — most notably, the one at California’s Hollywoodland sign — seem to leave a perfume.

Could we use fragrance to attract them, as well?

There are several ways to approach this.

  • Use an aroma that is universally attractive, particularly from their time period.  Apple pie comes to mind, and it’s been popular for centuries.  Chocolate is another time-honored food that attracts by sense of smell. I’m sure there are other appealing aromas, too.
  • Try an odor that isn’t necessarily pleasant, but it fits the time period.  After all, we’re constantly hearing reports of apparitions and hauntings at historical sites and reenactments.  Cleaning products, cooking ingredients, the smell of black powder (guns and rifles), etc., might produce a result.
  • Similarly, consider fragrances that were popular in particular time periods.  In the early 19th century, women of lesser morals supposedly favored cheap violet perfumes.  Would it help if a female researcher wore violet perfume where there are ghosts of soldiers, pirates or smugglers?  It’s worth a try.

To research perfumes to match the ghosts’ time period, here are some recommendations.  Most of these books are expensive; see if your public library has them, or can find them for inter-library loan.

The best book is probably Perfume: Joy, Scandal, Sin – A Cultural History of Fragrance from 1750 to the Present.  Though this heavily illustrated book written for perfume collectors, the text explores perfume’s impact on history, culture, society, art, and attitudes.  Read it with a focus on those historical and cultural connections, and you may find some useful tips & insights.

Another (expensive) book that may be useful — if you’re a total geek about this — is Perfume: A Global History.  Like the previous book, it’s best to see if your public library has this book or can order it on inter-library loan.

Once you’ve narrowed your focus to an era and a type of fragrance, the earliest perfumes and colognes may be easy to replicate, such a orange oil + cinnamon, or something like that.

Antique recipe (receipt) books may help, or you can improvise on your own with online recipes.  Click here to read one 19th century perfume recipe book, or download it.

For actual antique and vintage perfumes, you can check antiques dealers’ websites.

If your paranormal experiments seem successful, you could take this a step further: People who collect and sell vintage perfume bottles may not have washed the bottles.  Each fragrance can be copied by modern-day perfumers and fragrance alchemists.


As ghost hunters, we often rely on three senses:

  • Sight
  • Sound
  • Touch or feeling

However, what about taste and smell? They’re usually overlooked in our research. Exploring (or exploiting) them might produce interesting results… or it might not.  We won’t know until we try.

Though I’ve offered some in-depth suggestions, always experiment on a small scale before committing resources (time & money) to any approach.

Look at sensory experiments from both angles:

  • What will put you, as an investigator, more in-tune with the spirits?
  • What will attract the spirits because they recognize something, or feel more comfortable when that element is present?

If you experiment in these areas, I hope you’ll share your findings — positive or negative — in comments below.

Ghosts – What’s Real. What’s Not.

Ghosts - what's real and what's not, for those who may be worried.Regularly, I’m contacted by someone who describes something too extreme.

They’re describing multiple issues at one location. Or experiences straight out of a really bad horror film.

If I reply to the person — and I generally don’t — the email usually bounces right back to me.

That’s annoying.

I take my research very seriously. Others’ “pranks” take time from those who genuinely need my advice.

Now and then, the email is real. The following is edited from one of those, and it had been left as a comment at this site, too:


My roommate and I need help. We have lived in the same apartment for 8 years and 6 months ago we have been seeing some very strange things in our apt. that is scaring the hell out of us and we are in need of help. Dark shadows, knocking (loud) at our front door when no one is there. Cold spots, too.

We are currently looking for another Apt, but things are getting bad by the day. Our animals are getting scared and one died last week. The dark shadows are the worst, extremely frightening!

We are looking for ANY advice as to how to deal with this until we move. HELP!

There are many other things going as well, doors that do not have keys locking themselves.  We cannot sleep well due to fright.

Whatever is going on is taking a severe toll on us and our animals. Do you have any suggestions on how to deal with this?


Here’s a lightly edited version of my reply to Scott:

You’re describing too many problems in one location.  Either this didn’t actually start six months ago, or something normal is involved… like a neighbor is using an appliance that’s leaking EMF at a very high level.  That’s one of the first things I’d check.

However, check for carbon monoxide, as soon as you read this.

If you don’t have a carbon monoxide detector, see if it’s required in apartments where you live.  (Many states require them in all apartments.) Maybe your landlord needs to install one.

Otherwise, get to Home Depot or something and buy one today. A cat dying could be a big warning.

The variety of events you’re talking about… those might happen at places like The Myrtles Plantation or Tudor World.

They don’t happen in normal homes or apartments. Those things don’t happen out-of-the-blue, either… not unless someone was idiot enough to summon something dark.

If the latter is the case, you need to get help from a demonologist or at least a priest or minister.

Otherwise, some or all of what’s going on is probably caused by something normal… and possibly several things that are stacking to look frightening.

1. Check carbon monoxide.
2. Check EMF.

In haste,
Fiona Broome

I’m posting this here because many of us are hearing stories like these from people who are frightened.  Due to the popularity of ghost-related TV shows, they leap to paranormal conclusions instead of methodically checking for normal explanations, first.

What’s usually going on

My earliest edition of Is Your House Haunted? was written for cases where people think their home is haunted, especially if they’re experiencing multiple kinds of phenomena, or one that’s particularly dramatic.

In it, I explained, step-by-step, how to debunk typical symptoms of a haunting.

Those steps include checking for carbon monoxide, and uneven floors (and windows, and doors) that could explain disorientation.

Infrasound could be a factor, but – depending on the ghostly phenomena – I’d probably check the attic and walls for evidence of animals living there. Their noises can seem very strange. Add the potential for health risks – not just allergies – and animals can be an urgent concern.

Of course, there are other steps to take, but those are the kinds of steps you – or a team of ghost hunters – should take before doing an investigation that focuses on ghosts.

When there’s danger

The person who sent me that email may be in mortal danger if carbon monoxide is involved.

If there’s any chance that you are in danger – of any kind – stay with a relative or a friend while you sort out what’s really going on.

Once you, your family, and your pets are safe, start checking your home for the most dangerous problems.

If animals are sick or dying, the first thing to check is carbon monoxide… and do so, today. That has no color or odor and it kills people, too.  At lower levels, people are operating with low oxygen levels and can imagine all kinds of things.

Less immediately dangerous, but still an issue: Elevated EMF can make animals and people sick, and the effects can be very bad if the person or animal is sleeping where the EMF is highest.

EMF is one of the EIFs — an abbreviation for Experience Inducing Fields — that cause very normal people to think paranormal and scary things are going on.  Geomagnetic fields and infrasound can do the same thing.

Once people start sleeping badly or losing sleep altogether, their heightened sensitivity can make ordinary (but odd) things seem sinister.  That leads to even more anxiety and less sleep, and it’s a vicious cycle.

If you’re in an apartment, condo or dorm, the issue may begin outside your rooms. A new neighbor may have a refrigerator that’s generating abnormally high EMF; I saw that in a dorm where a small refrigerator was affecting the room next door.  The EMF from behind the refrigerator pushed EMF levels to the red zone in the room next door.

Or, it’s possible that you have a few normal (and perhaps dangerous) problems, and an obnoxious neighbor heard about this and is playing pranks to make things worse.   (I don’t want to add paranoia to the mix, but… well, now and then someone truly stupid thinks it’s okay to be a practical joker.)

How normal hauntings progress

This is what’s real:

In haunted places, a single “symptom” may emerge overnight, but it’s not likely to be anything big:  People may notice shadows moving in the basement.  A cold spot may begin to emerge in a room where it can’t be explained as a draft.  Poltergeist activity (objects moving or unexplained, odd noises) begins in the kitchen or bath.

It’s very low-level.  People notice these things, and may or may not be alarmed by them.  They look for normal explanations, or at least explain them (to themselves) in a normal context:  My eyes are playing tricks on me.  It only seems cold there because it’s warmer by the radiator.  The cup didn’t really fly across the room, it just fell and had a lot of momentum.

From there, the range of activity may increase, but it’s usually a case of one or two phenomena increasing:  People see more shadows.  The TV turns itself on & off more often.  And so on.

The process usually takes months, and sometimes years, to increase.  It’s not overnight.

Unless it’s a profoundly active location, you won’t find cold spots and animals dying and doors locking themselves and loud knocking, etc.

The one exception

The one exception is if someone (usually a few people) actually summoned something dark.

I tend to use words like “amazingly stupid” when a client admits to that.

By now, most ghost enthusiasts know that Ouija board can cause continuing, scary and even dangerous paranormal activity.

Usually, the problem isn’t ghostly.

Yes, it’s vital to get help in that situation. It can be life-threatening.

Meanwhile, I warn people not to try Ouija boards “just for fun.”

You get what you ask for.  Don’t open doors you can’t close. And don’t be arrogant enough to think you can handle anything you might summon by mistake.

You can’t. It’s that simple. And that horrifying, if you’re the victim.


If you feel that you’re in danger, get out of there.

Do that immediately.

Stay with a relative or friend for a few days.  That’s all you’ll need to determine the actual level of danger, and perhaps its causes, too.

Check very normal reasons for what’s going on.  Do that first.

Begin by keeping a journal of what’s going on.

My book talks you through “troubleshooting” steps, but you can also call a good handyman or contractor.  If he (or she) has a broad background in home repairs, he can probably identify and fix what’s wrong.

Once you’ve ruled out what’s normal — or if this started when someone thought it was “fun” to summon demons — it’s time to address this from a spiritual and/or paranormal view.

However, few very haunted homes have cold spots and noises and doors locking themselves.

Animals don’t usually die there either, unless they were very sick or elderly. (In other words, that tragic loss has nothing to do with ghosts.)

  • Always check for normal explanations first.
  • There may be multiple normal factors at work.
  • Paranormal activity could be part of the problem.

It’s vital to analyze the situation objectively, and explore every possibility, starting with what’s normal… especially if it’s dangerous.

But, if you think you’re in danger, even if you’re concerned that people will say “it’s all in your imagination,” get out now.

It’s easier to assess risky situations from a distance.