Staying home? Want to try some “armchair ghost hunting”?
I’ll admit it: This might be one of my stupider ideas. (A whole lot of ghost hunting involves testing wild & crazy ideas, just to see what happens. Now and then, one actually works.)
If this idea appeals to you, I invite you you to play along, as well.
Frankly, I need others’ input. Not just their results, but alternate ideas for related tests.
This is sort of like treating the TV (or your computer monitor) as if it’s haunted.
I have my doubts that this works, but – since I’m at home, anyway – I’m trying all kinds of remote ghost hunting ideas.
What You’ll Need
You’ll need a comfy place to sit, a TV, a ghost hunting show on the TV – preferably a real-time ghost hunting (though those are infrequent on TV) – and some kind of ghost hunting equipment.
It could be an Ovilus, or an app that “talks” at haunted sites. Or, you could use a pendulum (with a numeric chart) or even dice. I’ll suggest alternatives later in this article, but I encourage you to come up with your own ideas.
Of course, you’ll also need to take notes as you test this idea.
What I’m doing
For the past couple of months, I’ve been watching ghost hunting shows – mostly old Ghost Adventures episodes, and the newest season of Most Haunted.
I’ve been watching both shows on Really, a British cable network. (Ghost Adventures is available on Hulu and online, too, but I haven’t tried those resources, yet. )
I’ve watched TV with my Ovilus III next to me, set to dictionary mode. I’ve used a pen & paper to note the results.
I wanted to see if the Ovilus “said” anything, and if the words were a good match for whatever was happening on the TV.
Ordinarily, my home has few EMF spikes, so the Ovilus is not likely to react, even if I leave it on for an extended time.
The Ovilus III has a 2,048 word vocabulary, but I haven’t estimated the odds of a “close match” during a typical ghost hunting show. (I’m not sure it’s possible to calculate that.)
My results, so far
Watching Most Haunted, my results have been vastly better if I research the location, first.
That suggests a connection between my awareness and what the Ovilus says.
Since I haven’t looked ahead in the UKTV listings, to see which Ghost Adventures episodes were scheduled, I haven’t researched them at all.
But, in general, the Ovilus seems more chatty during Ghost Adventures than during Most Haunted. In fact, some Ghost Adventures episodes seem to send the Ovilus on a tirade.
At best, I’ve seen about 20% correlation between the Ovilus’ words and what was on the TV screen at that moment.
Until today, I wasn’t sure this experiment was worth an hour a day.
Ovilus III v. a “control” word list
Today, before turning on Ghost Adventures, I decide to try a “control” list of words. Would they match the TV show as closely as the Ovilus did?
I kept the Ovilus running – and took notes – even through the commercial breaks.
As the Ovilus “spoke,” I noted it by the next sequential word on the random list. (That is, until the Ovilus spoke, I didn’t count the random word, even if it was a good match for the TV show. In addition, I followed the exact sequence of the random words list; I didn’t skip around.)
This is far from scientific, but it’s a start.
During the show and its commercials, the Ovilus spoke 45 times.
11 of the Ovilus’ words were a good match for the what was happening on the TV. (In general, the Ovilus seemed to speak about two to three seconds before the matching moment on the show. I didn’t stretch the window beyond that.)
Only five of the words on the random list were a good match at the same time. And, of the six that seemed likely to fit any Ghost Adventures scene, only one — the word “spooky” — correlated to what was going on, at the time.
Some of my decisions were admittedly biased. When Zak was talking about a skeptic, the Ovilus said “jerk.” That’s the word I would have used, myself, so I counted it.
When two voices spoke in EVP, almost simultaneously, a counted the random word “double” as a good match. (The Ovilus had said “yield” at that moment; clearly, that was not a match.)
As I said, this isn’t scientific at all, but it makes sense to me. It’s a starting point.
The most interesting part of today’s experiment was during the scenes at the Goldfield Hotel, where — as Zak and his team investigated — a brick had moved on its own.
As Zak showed what had happened, my Ovilus said a rapid sequence of words, none of which seemed relevant. (The words were: bones, short, outside, carrier, and eat.)
But, it was so different from the Ovilus’ behavior during the rest of the show — and during my other, similar experiments — it may be noteworthy.
Or, yes… it may be a coincidence.
Want to be part of this experiment?
Today’s test may have been a fluke. My previous experiments weren’t consistent enough (or dramatic enough) to decide anything… yet. I’d like others’ input.
If you want to try some “armchair ghost hunting,” it’s easy.
All you need is any device that seems to respond to ghostly energy. (Even a homemade pendulum might work.) It doesn’t have to be as fancy as an Ovilus.
If you’re using an electronic ghost hunting device, turn it on while you’re watching a ghost-related TV show, movie, or documentary.
For lower-tech tools, just set them up as if you’re in a haunted location.
With dice or a pendulum (and numeric chart), you might start with a numbered list of random words. Roll the dice regularly throughout the show, and jot down the word that corresponds to that number. See if it “makes sense” in the context of what’s happening on the TV.
Or, use your phone and a random word generator. (There are lots of apps for this.) Regularly click to generate a word. Does it fit what’s going on – at that moment – in the ghost hunting show?
Basically, I’m looking for anything that connects with the ghostly energy you’re witnessing on the TV show. Even though there’s a major time-space gap.
Note the results.
If you test this, I hope you’ll share your results (and opinions) at this HollowHill.com article.
For now, I think this could be interesting, but there may be a lot of trial-and-error to fine-tune this. So, your input (and results, even you say this is a really stupid idea) could be very helpful.
*Since posting this, I’ve improved the control option. I copied the Ovilus III word list and numbered it. (That link – updated so it prints on just 13 pages – is a PDF at Google Drive.)
Then, I’m using a random number generator (selecting 50 numbers among 1 through 2048) to choose enough words (20 – 50 seem good) for a typical Ghost Adventures episode.
After that, I’m using the numbers to create a sequential list of Ovilus words, based on what the random number generator selected. (Same order, but listing the corresponding words from the Ovilus III list. I hope that makes sense; this is easier than it probably sounds.)
In theory, this should tell me whether the Ovilus’ choice of words is more accurate than a wholly random selection from the same collection of words.
Update: Thursday, 26 Jun 2017
Using the Ovilus III word list is a big improvement. I think it’s a more specialized list than the Random Word Generator list I’d tried, earlier.
In other words (no pun intended), the RWG list included words that were more generic and could fit a wider range of events. So, it seemed to match more moments on the TV.
Today, I tried two different word lists. Both were randomized from the Ovilus III list. After watching the King’s Tavern episode of Ghost Adventures, I was astonished.
During Ghost Adventures, out of 41 times the Ovilus was triggered, 12 words “said” by the Ovilus were a good match, and one more was close (but not quite right).
That’s about 30% accuracy.
Is that significant?
Maybe, but maybe not.
Usually, the randomized words weren’t even close. One of the lists matched twice (with a so-so third match). The other list had no matches at all.
This suggests that the Ovilus really is doing more than just spitting out random words from its dictionary.
Of course, I’ll continue these experiments. It’s too soon to reach any conclusions.
Update: Monday, 13 Nov 2017
I’m still testing this, and have expanded my viewing to include other ghost hunting TV shows.
The more I work with this idea, the better it looks. In the past week, there’s been an increase in exact match, topical words said by the Ovilus, seconds before someone on the TV says the same words.
So, yes, it looks like this works.
It could be coincidence. That’s why I need some second (and third, and fourth…) opinions.
I’m not convinced the percentage of accurate responses is worth the time & effort.
And, I still need to compare my TV research with on-site research at the same site.
Update: December 2020
Re-reading this now, I’m not convinced these tests proved anything… except the lengths I’ll go to, to find some new approach to ghost hunting.
My 30% accuracy rate – with the Ovilus – may have been a fluke. And really, is 30% accuracy significant?
Maybe there’s some variation of this that might work, so I’m leaving this online for others to morph and test.
You might have a breakthrough. If so, let me know. I’ll happily set aside time to see if I can replicate your results, on my own.
And, worst case, you’ll have had a good excuse to sit and watch ghost hunting TV shows.
Make the most of your ghost hunting at Halloween. Between weather, crowds, revelers, and police patrols, it’s best to plan ahead to avoid Halloween disappoin…
Some of the most important points
Plan ahead. Decide on at least one backup location, in case your first choice is closed or too crowded.
Verify each location ahead of time, in person.
Print maps, in case your GPS fails. (Especially during Halloween ghost investigations, never rely on anything electronic.)
Check the weather forecast, and dress accordingly… and bring any “just in case” items you might need.
Allow extra travel time for Halloween traffic and trick-or-treaters.
The night before Halloween, get a good night’s sleep. You may need it.
Expect surprises and (perhaps) more scares than usual. But, if the ghosts don’t cooperate at your Plan A location, it may be time for Plan B.
Also, you can read what happened to me in 1999, at a “not very haunted” cemetery: Ghostly Mischief on Halloween Night. I was glad I had a Plan B location in mind. And, after that, I learned to be prepared.
If you’d like to download a free Halloween ghost hunting checklist that includes all the points in the video, click here. (It’s a PDF at Google Drive.)
Do you have additional tips for ghost hunting at Halloween? Share them in the comments section of this HollowHill.com article.
Photo credits from the video: DepositPhotos.com, Storyboards.com, and FreeImages.com: Eric Nelson (Gettysburg), Daryl Chan (clouds), nvision88 (traffic), Title & credits page: old-manor-1231905
In yesterday’s Hollow Hill article (about haunted Haverhill), I mentioned the Westford Knight. I’m not sure that Westford (Massachusetts) site is actually paranormal, though it might be worth checking out.
In my ley lines (for ghost hunting) research, I include the Westford Knight site because it has a weird (and credible) enough context.
Of course, between age, vandalism, and decades of acid rain, the artwork on the Westford Knight grave marker is barely visible now. (30 years ago, it was still fairly impressive. Today, it’s more likely to evoke a big yawn.)
So, here are references that may explain my enthusiasm when the Westford grave shows up on a ley line.
First, here’s a link to a lengthy history supporting the Westford Knight theories. (Illustrations aren’t so great.)
Whether or not you take the Westford Knight history seriously, it stands out as an anomaly. It’s something weird and incongruous in an otherwise typical, lovely New England town.
In the future, I’ll talk more about ley lines and how useful they are to ghost hunters. But, for now, the Westford Knight is a great example of a not-necessarily-ghostly point that increases the potential of any ley line that crosses it.
In fact, it may be one of New England’s most overlooked – and reliable – haunted communities.
That makes it a great location for ghost hunting. But, many of the best locations are off-limits at night, or require a fee to explore.
Don’t let that deter you. Haverhill’s ghosts can be worth the extra effort.
In 2017, I was interviewed for an article: Haunted in Haverhill, by Alison Colby-Campbell. The article was in the October 2017 issue of Haverhill Life.
Here are my research notes from that interview.
The Haverhill Ley Line Map – Haunted Places
My early Haverhill ley line research produced two maps.
The first included points related to known haunts and suspected ghosts.
In that map (courtesy of Google Maps), you’ll see two triangles.
In the first triangle, dashed lines connect the Northpoint Bible College site (former location of Bradford College) and Buttonwoods/Pentucket Burial Ground area to Hilldale Cemetery.
In the second triangle, the solid lines connect the same initial points to St. James’ Cemetery instead of Hilldale.
Anything within the two, overlapping triangles might be worth extra research. Those areas have a greater likelihood of ghosts.
The problem was: when I was working with that map, it just didn’t feel right.
That’s difficult to articulate. At this point, it’s simplest to say that some of my ley lines work is intuitive.
Further, if I keep working on the troublesome map that “guesswork” almost always rings true.
That was the case with the Haverhill map.
Other Eerie Places Confirmed My Results
On a whim, I took a fresh look at the map. I studied everything in the area, and thought about weird news reports and nearby paranormal sites.
That’s when I remember the Westford Knight. (That site is in Westford, MA. I’m not sure it’s still worth visiting, but – many years ago, when I first saw it – it definitely looked like a primitive, medieval knight’s burial.)
When I connected the dots between the Westford Knight site, Northpoint Bible College, and Buttonwoods, it went through Walnut Cemetery and over the Isles of Shoals.
That line made more sense to me. It hit more major weird/paranormal sites.
Buttonwoods? Very haunted. I’d go back there just for another look at the haunted mirror in the parlor.
Walnut Cemetery? Strange. Something was odd (not just haunted) when I investigated it. It seemed as if the cemetery amplified unhealthy impulses among the living. (Yes, I know how bizarre that sounds. It’s more likely my imagination was working overtime.)
If I were scouting haunted locations for a TV series (something I’ve done in the past), I’d focus on that line. I’d follow it exactly, and ask questions at any shops, restaurants, or other public sites along the way.
Frankly, that line is so strong, I’d stake my reputation on it leading through some other very weird (and probably haunted) locations.
It’s just a matter of looking, and asking questions of enough people. That takes persistence, patience, and a little audacity at times. But, it’s usually worthwhile, if you’re looking for unreported haunted places. You might find some so dark and weird, people avoid talking about them.
So, yes, if you’re a ghost hunter, Haverhill can be a goldmine of investigation sites, with very vivid ghosts.
The Haverhill Life article isn’t online now, but you can contact their office or ask at the Haverhill public library.
Centuries after its gory history, and even after thousands have trekked through the site on ghost vigils, this site is still the most bizarre and eerie haunt I’ve ever experienced.
I haven’t been there since the site became “Tudor World,” under new ownership. But, on a scale of 1 to 10, that location was at least a 25 in terms of things I’ve encountered nowhere else. Nothing we witnessed was “normal” even in paranormal terms.
If you’re looking for a creepy experience you’ll never forget, I recommend this more than any other haunted site I’ve visited.
Back in the mid-199os, I was among the first researchers given access to the site.
It was room after room of strange energy and intense personal impressions from a wide range of ancient ghosts who lived down there.
Also, there’s something about the site that retains an unusual level of residual energy. During my visit, I “saw” modern-day figures rushing at the end of one corridor. I later learned that corridor merged with a passageway currently used as a shortcut between buildings.
You must take a (paid) tour to visit these haunts, but — if the site is still active — it’s worth every cent.
If you’re looking for a light, fun place to visit during daytime hours, Hollis’ “Blood Cemetery” is a good choice.
From vanishing, ghostly cats to daytime orbs, and from faerie rings to a sense of strong (but friendly) ghostly personalities, this cemetery is still among my top recommendations for new ghost hunters.
Blood Cemetery is strictly off-limits (and aggressively patrolled by the police) after dark.
But, even around dusk, it’s a cool, weird little place for beginners to investigate.
I’m an avid reader, so any haunt related to literature is likely to be among my favorites. At this site, the Stables are creepy and have lots of odd activity. Some of it can seem sinister.
In the main house, try to find a quiet moment near Edith’s library. Some people hear her talking aloud, in French. (I’ve heard it, and she was griping about her husband. But, at the time, I didn’t realize Edith regularly spoke in French. So — for me, anyway — that gave the experience more credibility.)
Her husband’s room is a good location for EVP or other audio activity, like with a spirit box.
Also, be sure to visit the sweet pet cemetery in back of the house. It has its own energy, and it’s a lovely place to spend a few minutes.
In the past, I’ve described the entire town as something like a theme park… but for ghost hunters.
I wrote about this in my book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas. I took the cover photo in the daytime (no flash and no Photoshop) at Columbus City Cemetery.
In the 19th century, Columbus residents engaged in a vicious, gun-toting feud for decades. It’s the most extreme, community wide hostility I’ve ever heard about.
That left the town with residual energy and ghosts at along almost every street. Downtown, the tales are gruesome. One of the local art galleries features ghost paintings, and a ghost story of its own. The Opera House is another location worth investigating.
Columbus City Cemetery is filled with fascinating ghosts and ghost stories. There’s even a connection to the “curse of Tutankhamen.”
If you’re anywhere near Columbus, I recommend this town — and the city cemetery — for ghost hunting.
From the moment you enter the hotel lobby, look for ghosts. They’re from the 19th and 20th centuries.
The stories are quirky, too, from the haunted hotel safe (a room where valuables were stored) to the child who plays near the stairs, and from the bizarre story of the haunted mirrors in the Maximilian Room, to the ghostly rider who appears (or can be heard, faintly) on his ghostly horse.
Then there’s the guest room that was so haunted, the hotel kept it sealed for many years. And the stories about LBJ’s ghost.
I’ve also experienced the anomalies surrounding one haunted painting, and I’ve seen and heard the ghostly watchman who patrols the halls. (Don’t worry, he’s shy and definitely not dangerous.)
This hotel isn’t the only haunted place you can stay in Austin, but it’s certainly one of the best.
Haverhill’s ghosts are like Salem’s, because they include angry women who died too young, and sinister ministers who still disapprove of independent thinking.
But, in Haverhill, you can investigate ghosts with fewer crowds around you… and less blatant commercialization.
I recommend Buttonwoods (including John Ward’s house) and Pentucket Cemetery, close to it. Walnut Cemetery is another good choice, especially around the holding tomb. (They stored bodies in that raised, grassy mound when the ground was too frozen to dig graves).
Also, the site of Bradford College was very haunted, but it’s now private property (Northpoint Bible College). If you’re in that area, I recommend Bradford Burial Ground.
Hilldale Cemetery is in a slightly different direction, but it has a rich history and ghostly apparitions.
If you’re in the area, Salem (Massachusetts) is fun to explore. But, many of its most haunted sites are either off-limits or they’ve been over-investigated. Or both.
Salem Inn is reliable if you’re looking for a site to investigate overnight.
The “Witch House” is a must-see for tourists. Watch the chairs. From what I saw, most of the ghosts linger in or next to them.
Also, study the Judges Line. I’m certain some under-reported haunts are still eerie and worth investigating, if you can get permission to explore them.
Nearby Danvers, where the “witch hysteria” started… that’s another story. For now, I can share just a few tips.
For respectful, daytime investigations, visit the site where Reverend Parris lived. That may be “ground zero” for the tragic episodes that followed. It’s also a good location for EVP… except that it’s in a residential neighborhood. Visit it anyway.
But, for investigations, I recommend Whipple Hill, which may have restricted access. I’m not sure it’s safe after dark, anyway.
During the daytime, it always seems as if I’ve stepped into a slightly different dimension. The sun isn’t as bright. Weird, gnarly roots and vines seem to appear out of nowhere. People hear voices they describe as “there, but not there, like they’re echoes from another time.”
We haven’t begun to understand the anomalies at Whipple Hill.
You’ll either love this location or think it’s boring. For me, it’s never the same place, twice.
The site itself is a small, rectangular cement foundation. The house is gone. Its front stairs remain, close to a famous (possibly haunted) boulder dating back to Native American times.
But, the real energy is on one side of the house, and slightly north. I’m not sure if the university that owns it has tidied it. It was a tangle of weeds and poison ivy during my visits. It’s also a treasure trove of the remains of the mansion and its outbuildings.
EMF spikes, weird noises, and — sometimes — an odd sense of stillness are among the anomalies at the house site.
And then there’s Tyng cemetery, nearby. It’s not great for research, because it’s on a busy street. However, the cemetery is a mystery with John Alford Tyng’s haunted grave marker, and “graves” that apparently hold no bodies.
I didn’t expect much when I arrived. The gift shop was cute, not creepy. The entire site seemed cheerful. I kept looking around and thinking, “There is no way this place is haunted.”
But then… I felt uneasy about where I’d parked my car. Something seemed wrong about it. So I moved my car to another space. And then another. I still felt uneasy, but there weren’t many other parking spaces.
My anxieties seemed groundless. I decided I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I knew no records supported the Chloe story. The “poisoned” children actually grew up and lived full lives. So, there weren’t really any ghosts at the Myrtles… were there…?
By 4 AM the next morning, I knew the Myrtles Plantation was one of the weirdest haunts I’d ever investigated.
Everything may seem fine until around 10 PM. After that, get ready for a wild night of bizarre phenomena. Some people run out, terrified, and drive away before midnight.
Get a good night’s sleep before you visit the Myrtles. You may not get a minute’s rest after the ghosts come out.
12. Gentrified neighborhoods
“Gentrified” neighborhoods usually have histories that included poverty, tragedy, early deaths, and violence. (It’s why they’re called “gentrified.”) Maybe they were on the “wrong side of the tracks,” or had some other disparaging description.
Research the history of the community, especially crime records, and see what stands out about “gentrified” areas. If the area has a walking tour – not just about ghosts, but history or architecture – sign up for it.
You’ll find plenty of reasons why those neighborhoods have more hauntings per square foot than most.
13. Irish-American Cemeteries
In the United States, I find intense hauntings at almost every 19th-century cemetery featuring lots of Irish immigrants.
The Irish faced harsh discrimination and hard times when they arrived in America. Many of them died far too young, and in misery.
Those graves are often haunted.
But, those cemeteries are often neglected. You may have to look for them on old maps, just to find them.
Most of these cemeteries are on the fringes of cities and towns. Also, some small cemeteries (and unmarked graves) sprung up around towns where the migrant Irish helped build the railroads, or dig canals.
Most died from illness or exhaustion, or both. A few prospered, and they have their own ghost stories.
(Example: New Orleans’ famous LaLaurie Mansion is supposedly haunted by Madame LaLaurie. While tour guides represent her with a French accent, she was actually the daughter of an Irish immigrant.)
Because of isolated locations and poor maintenance — as well as local laws — old Irish immigrant cemeteries may not be safe to visit.
If they are, it’s likely you’ll encounter a ghost. Irish-American cemeteries are among the best places to see full or partial apparitions. You may only see them out of the corner of your eye, but they can be impressive, anyway.
When I need to convince a skeptic that ghosts are real, I usually take him or her to an off-the-beaten-path Irish immigrant cemetery. Skeptics want to bolt at the first apparition they see.
What are your favorite haunts? Leave a comment. I’d love to hear about your ghost hunting experiences.