Do Ghosts Scare You?

“Do ghosts scare you?”

“What’s the scariest place you’ve ever visited?”

Those are the questions most people ask me when they learn that I’m a paranormal researcher.

My simplest answer is: No, ghosts don’t scare me.

And, since ghosts don’t frighten me, a simple haunting (or two or three) won’t alarm me.

In fact, I’m more likely to whisper, “Ooh, cool!” and members of my team will nod in agreement.

Most investigators want to encounter ghosts.

But, if you think ghost hunting is as exciting as it looks on TV, and – just for fun or a “good scare” – you just stumble into a “haunted” site, you may be disappointed.

You may also put yourself in danger.

Ghosts… and Not Ghosts

Most ghosts are just people, without solid, physical form.

They may be able to interact with our world – by moving objects, touching people, or speaking so they’re recorded as EVP.

Since most ghosts aren’t able to do much, physically, in our world, I’m not afraid of them. They’re just spirits.

  • Most seem to linger here for their own reasons. They may have unfinished business, or want to protect “their” family or former home.
  • Some are mischievous. They may tap you on the shoulder, give you a gentle nudge, or slam a door to surprise you.
  • A few are angry, and perhaps territorial. They’ll do what they can to frighten you away. As the saying goes, their “bark is worse than their bite.” (I usually imagine myself bigger and stronger than the spirit, and don’t flinch. After a while, the ghost usually gives up and leaves me alone.)

But, not all “hauntings” are ghostly. That’s what scares me.

What you’re experiencing could be caused by someone (or a few people) who are very much alive.

OR, it could be an entity that’s not human, not a ghost… but definitely a threat.

Dealing with Pranksters

Of course, if someone – or a group of people – might be trying to scare you, it’s best to retain your composure (as best you can), and leave immediately.

When a haunting turns out to be a joke -

In most cases – especially deserted locations like cemeteries, battlefields, and abandoned buildings – your most likely tormentors are party-goers. Those isolated sites are popular among young adults who want to drink, smoke, or have a laugh… or all three.

It’s never smart to try to argue with someone who wants to have a laugh at your expense. It could turn ugly in a hurry, especially if the person is drunk.

Just leave. Stop arguing. Say nothing more. Just leave, immediately.

Whether or not you’re dealing with party-goers, carefully consider whether someone in your group is part of the problem.

That includes jokers who don’t take ghost research seriously, and predators.  (I’m not sure if they’re magnets for problems, but every time I include a researcher who makes me a little uneasy, we seem to encounter other issues, too.)

When it’s Something More Dangerous

Ghosts don’t scare me, but other entities can, so Vale End Cemetery is the scariest place I’ve ever investigated.

That’s partly because I don’t know what those entities are, and how to protect myself from them. (Of course, in unfamiliar and creepy settings, it can be helpful to invoke spiritual protection before entering the site.)

Some entities might simply be weird energy, manifesting because… well, I have no idea why.

Yes, maybe they’re things people call “demons.” (Actual demonic attacks are far more rare than TV shows and movies might lead you to believe.)

What if it's not a ghost - but a demon?

Take no chances.

If something is clearly malicious, and starting to cause physical or emotional harm, leave the site immediately. That’s especially true if problems began with someone provoking the spirits.

Whatever demons really are, they’re dangerous. Despite what you’ve seen in popular media, a simple exorcism rarely resolves a demonic attack. The victim – if he or she survives – can battle dark entities for months or even years.

I’ve written about this in the past. See Possessed? Need help?

A personal note: I still recommend John Zaffis if you may be dealing with something demonic or malicious. I’ve known John for decades, and  I respect his work in demonology. (In my opinion, the TV series The Haunted Collector portrayed John in a truly unflattering light.)

John is actually one of the top authorities in the field of demonology, and donates many hours of his time to helping those in need.

This video – a trailer for a film – shows John more clearly.  (Yes, the b&w segments may not impress you. Pay attention when John is actually on the screen.)

That video is at

The best thing to do is avoid anything that might be demonic or malicious.

This means nobody on your team should use a Ouija board. (We have no idea why they seem to attract bizarre and scary entities, but Ouija boards do.)

And, as I said earlier, no one should provoke spirits, unless the investigator is very experienced with this technique, and there’s no alternative in the situation.

If you feel frightened for any reason at any haunted location, get out of there. Trust your angels, spirit guides, intuition, “gut feeling,” or whatever you call the impulse that signals danger.

I’m not scared of ghosts, but ghosts aren’t the only entities out there. It’s important to keep that in mind.

Can Light Effects Attract Ghosts?

Could light effects trigger ghosts, or at least anomalies? Maybe.

This morning, when I stumbled onto the following video about strobe lights and ghosts, I was intrigued.

Frankly, the video doesn’t show much. First, you’ll see the investigator introducing the video.

Then, if you’re still watching, you’ll see about three minutes of him investigating with a flashing strobe light.

(I noted only minor anomalies, and all of them require further study/debunking.)

After that, he spends a few minutes describing visual/light phenomena he’s observed.

Here’s the video, if you want to see it. Warning: A strobe light flashes starting around the 0:45 point.

YouTube link:

So… why would I share a 4+ year old video that doesn’t show much…?

First of all, I appreciate any researcher who tests fresh ideas.

That’s one reason I’ve always been a fan of the Klinge brothers’ research. (You may recall them from the TV series, Ghost Lab. It was among my favorites. You may find clips of it at YouTube, and streaming at sites like Amazon Prime Videos.)

But more importantly, Alejandro’s concept – attracting ghosts with a strobe light – made me wonder about “sparkles” we sometimes see when we’re taking ghost photos.

After all, many digital and point-and-shoot cameras send out at least one, brief flash of light.

Some cameras use that flash for metering, and to reduce “red eye” in photos of people. Many people never notice it.

I wonder if – in haunted settings – it might have a similar effect to a strobe.

Perhaps we need to test more lighting effects during our investigations.

In addition, it may be worthwhile to combine those flashing lights – from strobes and cameras – with a laser grid. If something more is going on, that grid might reveal it.

For the best effects, I’d set up a video recorder, and keep it filming the area covered by the laser grid, while using a strobe or taking photos.

Light or Electrical Impulses?

Of course, we’re not sure what (if anything) ghosts see in our realm.

In general, I’ve usually thought of “lights out” as something theatrical, to increase the drama on ghost hunting TV shows. However, I’ll admit that darkness makes it easier to focus on anomalies; we’re not distracted by everyday visual elements.

Some paranormal investigators use loosened flashlights as a yes/no means of communications. But, I’m pretty sure those answers are the result of electrical (EMF) surges, and have nothing to do with the light itself.

Also, we speculate about shadow people, who may be an absence of light – something that absorbs (or consumes) light energy – rather than an actual shadow.

And then there are orbs, which are a very controversial topic. But, if most of them are dust or moisture, why do orbs show up in haunted locations, but not a hundred yards away, under identical conditions?

Is there some ghost-light connection we’ve overlooked?

In my opinion, we need to investigate with special lighting effects, to see what happens.

If you’ve tried anything like this, let me know your results. Or, if you have suggestions to improve (or expand) research with light and shadows, I’m interested.

When Houses “Look Haunted” – Are They?

Can a house look haunted? Can its appearance attract spirits?

Or, can that trigger residents’ anxiety so they merely think their home is haunted?

Unless someone is unreasonably afraid of ghosts, I don’t think a house that “looks haunted” is enough to make someone call paranormal investigators.

But… maybe it is? I’m not sure.

A friend sent me a link to a MetaFilter thread about Victorian architecture and other cues suggesting a haunted house.

Of course, many (most?) people think about ghosts now & then. A door that slams shut due to a breeze, or seasonal creaking of floorboards… many things can trigger thoughts about ghosts.

That’s normal, and – once the initial fear passes – there’s usually a normal explanation for whatever-it-was.

But… could ghosts be attracted to houses that “look haunted”?

Ghosts and Where They Haunt

Few ghosts change locations. (The ghost of Judith Thompson Tyng is an exception. She haunted the two men she blamed for her death, and then she killed them, one by one.)

In many cases, if ghosts thought they could leave the sites they haunt, they would.

Other ghosts, such as the feuding brothers of Greycourt Castle,  have unfinished business. Neither of the brothers is willing to abandon his claim to the buried treasure.

Those kinds of ghosts choose to remain in our realm, until that business is concluded.

And then there are the “green lady” ghosts, who protect their former homes, and the famous Irish banshees who protect families.

The question is: Do some ghosts choose the locations where they remain?  Is there some reason why some ghosts haunt cemeteries, others haunt houses, and a few haunt the locations where they died?

Or, Do “Haunted Looking” Houses Create the Right Environment?

A more tangled question is whether people expecting ghosts – at spooky looking houses – create the ghosts.

I’m thinking of the eerie results from the Conjuring Up Philip experiments. I had the amazingly good fortune to spend time with one of the original “Philip” group, and talk with him about his experiences. He was a little cryptic about his views, but also confirmed that – yes – what was reported, actually happened.

Here’s a 12-minute video that describes the experiment. (The broadcast was filmed a long time ago, so it’s a bit blurry.)

And, if you can find a copy of the original book, read it.  It’s likely to change how you think about ghosts and haunted places.

IMPORTANT: If the following video won’t play in this window, click through to see it at YouTube. In my opinion, every ghost hunter should know about the Philip experiments.

That YouTube video of the Philip Experiment is at:

I’m interested in your thoughts about these topics. I hope you’ll leave a comment at this website. A dialogue about this could be fascinating.

UPDATE: Inadvertently, I created a Philip-style experiment, and – at the time – I didn’t realize it.

For a specific audience, I made-up a ghost story, and – apparently – told it convincingly.

Later, I learned that some people in the audience didn’t realize it was a fictional “ghost story,” and repeated the story to others.

By the time I understood what had happened, the genie seemed to be out of the lamp. I didn’t want to embarrass those who took the story seriously, so I didn’t say anything more about it.

And then, that ghost story spread.

Now – many years later – my made-up ghost has been seen, repeatedly, and the reports are credible.

I’m astonished, and wonder if the Philip Experiment might be more important than we’ve realized.

Gifts for Ghost Hunters

What kind of gift is ideal for a ghost hunter, without breaking your budget? Browse these ideas – from simple and under $10 to… well, elaborate far pricier.  (If you’re dropping hints, share this link with friends & family.)

The following suggestions were from December 2018, though most are still among my recommendations.

(Most links will take you to the GhostStop website, and I thank Graham of GhostStop – where I’ve shopped, online – for his insights. And, to be clear: they did not ask me to write this, and I’m not paid anything if you make a purchase. As always, my recommendations are blunt and honest.)

Affordable Gifts and Stocking Stuffers

Every ghost hunter can use several of these budget items. So, if you’re not sure what a friend or relative already owns, consider these “can’t own too many” treats.

  • Batteries – Experienced ghost hunters know how abruptly a new battery can go flat, in haunted settings. We carry rechargeable batteries, and keep replacing depleted ones as we’re working. (It’s not unusual to go through a dozen batteries during a single ghost vigil.)

In fact, I go out of my way to carry equipment that uses batteries I can easily replace. Worst case, someone dashes to the nearest convenience store for replacements.

But, GhostStop carries a handy, very powerful USB Power Pack for on-site recharging. It’s easy to carry and lightweight. With that, you’re not looking – in the dark – for an electrical outlet. (Many haunted sites are abandoned and have no electricity, anyway). This kind of power pack can radically expand the range of battery-powered research tools you use. I love this idea!

  • A carpenter’s level can be more useful than you’d expect. The door or window that “closes itself”? Be sure it’s correctly hung.  That room where you feel disoriented…? Make sure the floor is level. Those stairs where people feel pushed, or lose their balance…? Check every stair to be sure it’s level and evenly spaced.

Especially in older buildings, rule out structural/normal issues, before deciding the site is haunted.

Carpenter's level - ghost hunting

You can buy a small carpenter’s level – mine fits into an outer pocket on my backpack – for about US$6 at Amazon. DIY home repair shops should have them at similar prices.

The video is at YouTube:
  • Laser pointer/flashlights – These project a pattern or grid on any flat-ish surface, such as a wall. Or a gravestone. If a ghost or other entity passes between the flashlight and the wall, researchers can see a change in the projection.

Laser Grid pen kit - ghost huntingI own a laser grid scope, and love the convenience of it. It’s lightweight, and it can fit in a pocket.

Also, the grid is crisp and clear. If anything moves between you and the grid – like a shadow person or even a small orb – you’ll see it.

It’s best if you set it up – leave it on a flat surface that won’t be disturbed – and watch, or video the scene in case you miss subtle movements.

If you have deeper pockets, the Laser Grid GS1 will give you a better grid, so you can clearly track the up & down (or side-to-side) movement of the anomaly. If you’re investigating at that level, I recommend setting it up with a video camera filming everything that happens… for a minimum of 20 minutes. One or two hours is even better.

  • Plastic carrying cases – Some ghost hunting equipment is fragile. Protect your expensive meters, cameras, and other devices with adaptable plastic cases – and foam that can be cut to size. GhostStop offers a Tough Gear Case that will fit in most backpacks.
  • Ghost hunting apps (or a gift card for one) – As ridiculous as these can seem, I’ve seen their indications verified by dowsing rods, an EMF meter, and a psychic’s impressions… all at the same time.

You can download the original Ghost Radar Classic, free, at Amazon.

I used that Ghost Radar app in Canada. The device indicated a mural – and told us to look at it – at a time when the artist’s signature clearly answered a question asked of someone deceased. (It was a rather personal experience, so I’ll leave it to Margaret Byl to add details, if she chooses to.)

If it hadn’t been for that experience – and a later one in a Concord (NH) cemetery – I would never take that kind of app seriously. (Note: it works best on a phone. I’ve tried another Ghost Radar app on my Kindle Fire HD 8, and – so far – the results weren’t impressive.)

Something for Every Ghost Hunter, Beginner or Pro

Recording devices – Whether you’re interested in EVP, orbs, shadow people, or remote research, you’ll probably want related tools to gather (and save) evidence.

  • EVP recorders are useful. Sure, you could use your phone to record, but the sound quality probably won’t be close to a recorder intended for ghost hunting.  Small, dictation-style recorders are a better choice.

But, for set-and-forget ease – and high-quality recordings – a wrist recorder is my first choice. GhostStop’s EVP Band Wrist Recorder features one that has a battery life of over 12 hours.

(Added bonus: I’ve heard that it’s less likely to fall victim to “flat battery syndrome.” That is, it’ll keep running, even when other devices’ batteries can’t seem to hold charge.)

  • Spirit Box – This is a variation of the “Shack Hack” or “Frank’s Box,”  scanning radio signals and grabbing snippets.

ITC SB7 Spirit Box - ghost huntersI own a Spirit Box SB7, sold at GhostStop. From my experience, how well these boxes work depends on the person using the device, or at least asking it questions.

For me, it’s just so-so.

Don’t let that scare you. I think it’s just me; audio devices don’t seem to be my strong suit.

I have evidence to support that.  With about 20 of us in a room – known for being very haunted – an actual Shack Hack sat silent for 20+ minutes.

Several of us took turns asking questions… and all we got was static or silence.

Then, John Zaffis entered the room and – about 20 feet away – asked a question.

Almost immediately, the Shack Hack started replying… and kept talking, and talking. I was impressed!

And, I heard an actual Frank’s Box in action, in Canada. It made me an instant believer.

That’s why I’m comfortable recommending one of these devices, including the Spirit Box.

(Also, if you’re ever at an event where I’m an investigator, ask to borrow my Spirit Box. I’d love to see it work well.)

  • Cameras are essential in my research. Even a basic digital camera is usually a better choice than your phone. (I’d save the phone for ghost hunting apps, or – even better – turn the phone off so it’s not a distraction.)

My basic camera is usually a Nikon Coolmax, or whatever is their low-end, battery-powered model. (I also have a couple of DSLR cameras. I use them for follow-up visits, or at any site I’m fairly certain is haunted.)

In addition, and only if you’re already seeing photos with anomalies: Try a few photos with a film camera. An increasing number of researchers are doing this.

Disposable film cameras can be an affordable choice… if you can still find them. (Choose ASA 200 or 400, if you can. Amazon still sells these cameras.)

  • Video recorders – many digital cameras and phones can capture anomalies you might miss.  Of course, a good, dedicated video camera is more trustworthy than a phone.

Video evidence can be compelling. So, you’ll probably want a few cameras – plus tripods to support them – to set up and leave running.

I was impressed when I saw the POV camera at GhostStop. It’s amazingly light, so – as Graham suggested – you could even put it on the brim of your hat, and just let it record everything  you look at.

It’s not inexpensive, but if you’re serious about your research, it may become your favorite research tool.

Don’t Forget the Basics

As Graham at GhostStop reminded me, there are four basic, environmental issues to check regularly, throughout a ghost investigation: EMF levels, temperature, humidity, and vibrations.

For EMF, you may like the classic Mel Meter. It provides EMF and temperature readings. (There are fancier models, too. I tend to prefer the “plain vanilla” versions of some tools. For me, they provide fewer distractions.)

I’ve seen astonishing results with the Ghost Meter Pro. (Yes, I know it looks far too “as seen on TV,” but – over a period of about six years, mine has been reliable.)

Honestly, when I’m dashing out the door to a short-notice investigation, it’s among the tools I always take with me.

It’s currently unavailable at GhostStop, and Amazon says they’re out of stock. I’ve seen some listed at eBay, but not sure they’re the real deal, or just a clone with flashing lights. I’ve sent an email to what I think was the original manufacturer. I’ll update this if/when I have news.

Meanwhile, take a look at GhostStop’s Rook EMF meter. In terms of what’s inside, it’s designed to ignore all the static and environmental EMF. Readings are more likely to be paranormal. That’s a big step forward. (I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m intrigued.)

Impressive Extras

If you want to buy something that can take paranormal research to the next level, consider extras like these.

The REM Pod is a love-it-or-hate-it kind of tool.  I’ve seen them (and similar devices) in use at many investigations, and the results can be startling… and baffling. I think it’s one of those tools we’re just starting to understand.

My only complaint about the REM Pod is that it can be hypnotic. Perhaps literally. I’ve seen far too many people sit down and watch the REM Pod for hours, and miss great, ghostly anomalies in nearby rooms.

For now, I think the REM Pod is a tool to use in tandem with other devices and with a video camera watching it, so you don’t have to.

But, if you want to give a ghost hunter a present that will impress – and one he (or she) can’t own “too many” of – the REM Pod is a very good choice.

An even more impressive gift for a ghost hunter…? A 360-degree camera + rig. It’s a big investment, but for someone aggressively looking for ghosts – or creating a video channel/show about ghost hunting – she (or he) could probably use several of these.

Other Ideas

Of course, you can give someone a gift certificate from a favorite ghost hunting shop.

Or, you could buy a ticket (or two, so you can go, too) to a ghost hunting event, a ghost vigil, a ghost tour, or a convention where several ghost hunters will be speaking & sharing insights.

If you have other gift suggestions – or want to review (or share tips about) products I’ve mentioned – I hope you’ll leave a comment at this website.

“Pig Man” Ghosts – Real or Urban Legend? The Mystery Continues

Is “Pig Man” a ghost? An urban legend? Or something weird, somewhat hidden, and – perhaps – widespread, like Bigfoot?

I’m leaning towards this being an urban legend, but these stories are a little quirkier than the usual urban legends.

So, you may have a different opinion.

If you’re interested in “pig man” ghosts, you may want to start your research in Tennessee. That state’s hiking trails can be spectacular… or spectacularly haunted.

A May 2018 article, This Haunted Hike in Tennessee Will Send You Running for the Hills, claimed that Germantown (TN) area has multiple ghost stories.

One of them… well, one reason I think this is an urban legend is: In 2016,  a similar story was part of “American Horror Story: Roanoke.”

But where do these stories start, and do they have any basis in fact?

The 2018 article says:

“… Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park is located in Germantown, Tennessee, on the western side of the state. It’s a beautiful place that boasts over 13,000 acres of land.”

According to that article, the area’s most infamous ghost is “Pigman.” If you think he’s just some spectral figure with an unattractive nose or tiny, piercing eyes, think again.

The article says:

“The most well-known ghost is that of a man who worked at a local explosives plant during the second world war. He was horribly, wickedly disfigured during an accident, and was given the nickname “Pigman.”
It’s just the right kind of scare to offset such deep Tennessee beauty. There are stories of the Pigman, that he wanders around in the dead of night wearing the face of a pig.

“He is said to be looking for his next victim. “

But Wait… There’s More!

Another version of the story – also located in Tennessee – describes Pig Man as a deranged recluse who put dead pigs’ heads on pikes around his property, to scare away visitors. (He killed visitors who weren’t scared away… and then put their heads on pikes, too. Sounds a lot like Dracula.)

And, in death, he’s still up to his old tricks, scaring people.

Yet another story says that Pig Man was a circus animal trainer. He was mauled when his pigs turned on him and killed him. I’m not sure why he’d haunt with a pig’s head on. (Apparitions usually look exactly as the ghosts want to appear to you… and a pig’s head doesn’t seem a likely choice.)

The Tennessee story seems more detailed than counterparts in other areas, which could give it more credibility.

Or maybe that’s just a reporter’s creative writing. It needs to be verified in the actual areas where Pig Man has been reported.

But, no matter who Pig Man (or “Pigman”) was, or where he lived, the rest of the story is the same:

  • After death, he’s appeared with a human body.
  • People note the vile stench, even before he appears.
  • He’s wearing a pig’s head. (Not a mask, but an actual pig’s head instead of a human one… or maybe it’s wrapped around his head.)

Stay Far Away

Approaching him is not advised. In fact, if anything looks or smells like him, get out of there as fast as you can.

(That’s true whether he’s a real ghost or someone playing a sick prank.)

A ghost like this…? It might not be a ghost. It could be something more sinister.

Of course, some researchers will explore this version of the Pig Man story. (It’s a good excuse to visit some spectacular locations, right…?)

From my research, the Tennessee pig-faced ghost is usually seen around “Pigman Bridge” in Millington (TN).

According to reports, if you park in the middle of Pigman Bridge and shout, “Pigman!” three times, he’ll appear. (Some claim it helps to flash your lights three times, as well.)

Related Ghost Stories - Haunted bridges, mirrors, and more

Related, Non-Porcine Urban Legends

First of all, no one should ever park their car in the middle of a bridge, especially at night. That’s a major safety concern, and probably against the law.

Houston, Texas’ Most Haunted Bridge

This story has a strong resemblance to a couple of Houston legends, including Langham Creek Bridge, on Patterson Road in Bear Creek Park. According to stories, dead Civil War soldiers tap on cars.

Some say the sound is from rifles or canteens, or something else metallic, carried by each soldier, and hitting the car as they pass.

Others say the soldiers are tapping as if to say, “Move along, it’s not safe here.” After all, those soldiers died, and some may have encountered something other than a human enemy.

Yes, I’ve heard the tapping on my car at Bear Creek Bridge, when no one was around.  The taps were noisy and intermittent. The sounds came from my car. The metallic sound was definitely on my car, not inside and not from the bridge itself.

Each time, I rolled my window down to be sure nothing (like a persistent, hard-shelled insect) was actually there. But the tapping repeated.

They were single taps, and then two or three taps in a row, and so on. I can’t explain it, but it was real, and someone else (someone usually skeptical) witnessed it. I’m still looking for a reasonable explanation that fits what happened, but – for now – that ghost story seems true.

Nashua, New Hampshire’s Colonial Ghost

The Tennessee legend also resonates with a Gilson Road Cemetery (Nashua, NH) story:  Supposedly, if you’re on Gilson Road, the ghost of Betty Gilson can be summoned by shouting three times, “Betty Gilson, I have your baby.”

Most frequent reports claim she’s dressed in Colonial garb – complete with a mob cap – and dashes out from behind a nearby tree. Or, she just peers out from behind it, so you just see her cap, some of her hair, and her glowing eyes.

Haunted University Mirrors

Haunted university mirrors

Various universities have stories similar to the “Betty Gilson” legend.

At those colleges & universities, student claim if you summon a spirit while looking in a haunted mirror, calling the ghost’s name three times, she’ll appear.

I’ve seen ghosts in mirrors, but these university tales seem silly, and possibly dangerous. (Those dangers – of mirrors and possible demonic doorways – are a topic for another article.)

Sometimes, the name of the ghost is just “Bloody Mary.” That may (or may not) summon the grisly ghost of Mary Tudor (the Queen of England before Queen Elizabeth I).

Most related university legends give this advice:

  1. At night, around 10 PM, turn off all lights in the room with the mirror. (Usually, the mirror is in a dorm.)
  2. Then, look in the mirror and say, “Bloody Mary” either three or five times. (The number varies with the storyteller.)

The ghost’s image should appear within seconds.

If that doesn’t work, say “Bloody Mary, I have your baby,” or “I stole your baby, Bloody Mary.” (This references Queen Mary Tudor’s faux pregnancy.)

Other college and university haunted mirror stories advise using the name of a deceased student who – according to the stories – died by suicide. (Some Bradford College ghost stories described a student’s ghost in a mirror. Apparently, there really had been a suicide in that dorm.)

Additional “haunted mirror” ghost stories include different names and different tragic stories that explain them.

Usually, whether it’s Bloody Mary or some other spectre, the face of the ghost is a gruesome image. Luckily, it’s there for less than a second, and rarely appears more than two or three times, per night.

There are at least two major problems with these stories:

  1. Ghosts usually appear as they want to be remembered. I suppose a spirit might be bitter enough to remind people of his or her gruesome death, but that’s very rare. I’d guess they’re less than 1% of all reported apparitions. Most ghosts appear as attractive young people, or as beloved elderly archetypes.
  2. Ghosts rarely travel from one place to another. In fact, I know of only a few in the U.S. and the U.K. I can’t think of a single good reason for England’s Queen Mary Tudor to appear in American university mirrors.

That’s why I’m leaning towards these stories being urban legends.

More Pigman Tales?

One of the biggest problems with the Tennessee story is this: An almost identical tale is told about Pigman Road in Angola, New York. It has a similar history, including heads on spikes, and a lingering,  pig-faced ghost hiding in the woods, waiting to kill teens.

I don’t watch “American Horror Story,” but a Mental Floss article (linked below) suggested the TV “Pig Man” episode was based on the NY story.

So, maybe it is more credible than the TN counterpart.

I wanted to get to the bottom of this, so Pig-faced woman in the 17th centuryI searched Tennessee newspapers for a reference to “pig man” – with or without a reference to Millington – and found nothing.

A similar search of New York newspapers, with “pig man” and a reference to Angola, New York, turned up nothing, either.

So, at this point, I have no historical support for either legend.

However, I did uncover a “Pig-faced woman” legend… though it’s from the 17th century, and appeared in Holland, England, and France.

Initially, I thought this was parody, insulting some particular woman. Further research suggested that – in western Europe – several, reclusive people had “pig heads.”

Was it the result of a disease? A deformity? Were they aliens, or some version of “mole people”?

I have no idea. But, whatever it was… maybe that’s the basis of the New York, Tennessee, and other stories.

Those Pig Man Sites May Still Be Haunted

The Pig Man story is an interesting tale, but – being a little cynical – I wonder how many communities are trying to attract tourists who watch “American Horror.”

Or, maybe the current “pig man” stories evolved from earlier, sordid ghost stories in each area. It’s possible. Sometimes, a colorful ghost story may be fictional, but its roots might be authentic.

For example, Snallygaster stories related to the Blair Witch seem to echo Native American Thunderbird lore from distant parts of the U.S. They also sound eerily like some Bell Witch reports.

So, I wouldn’t dismiss the basic concept: a malicious entity with a grotesque, pig-like face. And, I wouldn’t go looking for one.

Like Bigfoot, Pig Men might appear (or even dwell) at multiple locations, and behave similarly in each one… complete with pigs’ heads on pikes.

Is he a ghost…? He doesn’t fit the usual profile. Not even close.

If he exists, I’d probably categorize him with other crypto-zoological creatures like Bigfoot.

And that’s a “best case” scenario.  When I first read about “Pig Man,” I immediately thought of demons.

For example, in the Bible, there’s a story of Jesus casting demons into a herd of pigs: Matthew 8:30-37; Mark 5:1-20; and Luke 8:27-38.

In Homer’s The Odyssey, Circe turned some of Odysseus’ men into pigs.

A casual search of “men turned into pigs” will show many similar references, across multiple eras & cultures.

Those kinds of stories often have a very real foundation. What I don’t know is… why pigs? 

Should You Investigate Pig Man? Maybe.

To verify this story, I’d investigate the Tennessee location because it sounds lovely… whether or not an unattractive ghost is in the woods.

By contrast, Angola, New York, was the site of a well-documented 19th-century tragedy. So, there’s provenance (credible evidence) for ghosts in that area.

If that “Pigman” site is truly haunted – and it might be, at least with residual energy – I’m not likely to investigate it. What happened there is just too sad.

(But that’s my personal preference. You may have more tolerance for research at disaster sites.)

Of course, those axe-wielding, pig-related legends are difficult to believe, without some first-person stories to support them.

That’s another reason to visit areas where “Pig Man” has been reported: To find out if anyone has a credible, first-person story of seeing him.

This might be an interesting example of how urban legends migrate, nearly intact.

Or… maybe all the stories are true. (Cue the Twilight Zone music…?)

If you’ve seen “Pig Man” in Georgia, New York, Tennessee, Texas, or Vermont, or know a similar ghost story – true or urban legend – please leave a comment at this website.

Pig man resources: additional reading

Illustration credit: Pig-faced woman, By Anonymous – Print given free with the 7 January 1882 issue of Illustrated Police News, reproduced in Fortean Times, April 2007, PD-US,