Ghosts, Love, Provoking, and Triggers [Part 2]

In Part 1 of this article, you learned about:

  • The long-term effects of love and hate at a haunted site
  • Why stories are important (and how seriously to take them), and
  • “Hiding in plain sight” clues to the ghosts’ history.

Now, let’s talk about the extras that can make a difference, and how to put all of this information to good use.

 

Historical Records

You may find additional clues in historical records. Look for wills, diaries, court records, and newspaper stories – including obituaries – related to the site and the people who lived and died there.

You may need to research the locations and people, offline, at public libraries and county courthouses.

But, if you’re researching someone famous, online resources can be a goldmine. For example, many diaries are already online. (Some of the largest and oldest collections are at The Diary Junction and the British Library.)

Double-check and cross-reference everything. That’s especially true if you use genealogical records, newspaper articles, or 19th-century anthologies of biographies or histories.

The number of historical resources can be overwhelming. If you have the likely ghost’s full name and it was a real person, start by searching online for “genealogy [person’s name].”

Tip: Ancestry.com is great, but it requires a paid membership, and – even then – some submitted records can be really wrong. You’ll find many free alternatives, and can use them to piece together your ghost’s history.

Try Cyndi’s List: UK Resources / US Resources, and so on.

Near the haunted site, you may find many useful records. For example, visit local cemeteries. See the artwork and inscriptions on gravestones that might be related to the site’s ghost.

  • Two hands, clasped, may indicate romance… and possibly someone who died early in life. (Look at the cuffs. Men’s cuffs and ladies’ were very different.) Compare each death date with when the person married. (And see how soon the other person married again, after the death of his or her spouse.)
  • Before studying Victorian gravestones, learn the meaning of different flowers in that era. For example, if the headstone design features a rose in bloom (or a bud), it’s usually someone who died in the prime of his or her life.

This kind of research can be the most time-consuming, but also the most helpful if you want a successful ghost investigation.

Tip: If your ghost was a prominent person, check Find A Grave to locate where he or she is buried.

Assemble the Information, and Test It

Next, put all of the information together.

Understand your ghosts' histories

If you’re lucky, you may have a fuller picture of your ghost’s life, from birth to death. He (or she) may even remind you of someone you’ve met, or a ghost from another haunted site.

Or, your research might point to multiple ghosts at the site, or residual energy hauntings.

Now, you have names and events to work with. You can use them for real-time communications to establish rapport, or to trigger ghostly activity and interaction.

Test your theories

Maybe you’ve learned that the husband, Thomas, died young from “consumption.” (Usually tuberculosis.) You’ve also learned that he was engaged to Sarah, but he died about a month before the scheduled wedding.

You could ask:

  • Is your name Sarah? Is your name Thomas?
  • Are you looking for someone?
  • Sarah, is this your [object]? (Ask the same of Thomas.)
  • Are you someone else? Did you know Sarah or Thomas?

And so on.

If all else fails, ask, “Can I help you?”

Try saying it two different ways. First, ask it the same as a clerk in a store might say it. Let it roll off your tongue, like you say it a hundred times a day. Weirdly, that can elicit the most immediate response.

If that doesn’t work, try a second, more consoling tone of voice. Lean forward and look interested, in case the ghost can see you; body language matters.

That simple question can be enough to start a dialogue with the ghost.

Be sympathetic rather than provoking. Kindness works.

Trigger Objects

Trigger objects – including everyday household items from the ghost’s era – may be useful.

People often think about bringing flowers to a grave, or a toy when the ghost is a child.

These can be useful in some settings.

During the 19th century, and sometimes earlier, many homes had a Bible. The ghost may respond to it. If you bring a Bible with you, make sure it doesn’t look modern. Black or brown covers were typical, and – when a family could afford an embossed Bible – the letters were usually gold.

Tip: If you read from it, your safest choice is a King James Bible, not a recent translation. (Prior to James I, only wealthy families and clergy owned Bibles. And, until 1782, the King James Bible was under a form of copyright, so some families didn’t – or wouldn’t – own them.)

But this is important: If you’re investigating an early American home, the Geneva Bible or Luther’s German Bible may trigger better responses.  In fact, ghosts of Pilgrims may feel uneasy if you read from the King James Bible.

Think about the class level of the ghost, and what kind of objects they might love to see again. Something beloved by a “downstairs” maid might be very different from an object that will trigger responses from the lady of the house.

However, think twice before bringing the ghost what he or she might think is a gift.  When you reveal it to the ghost, explain that it’s yours and you’ll be taking it home. You just wanted him/her to enjoy it for a short time.

Otherwise, the ghost may feel further betrayed. You gave him (or her) something… and then you took it away, for no reason.

Two things to consider before bringing/leaving gifts for ghosts:

  1. Will the object continue to “look nice”? Fresh flowers can wilt and look ugly in a short time. Plush toys will get soggy and mildew after a storm. If you leave anything, return in a few days (during the daytime) to remove it. And – just in case the ghost is listening – explain (out loud) why you’re taking it away.
  2. Don’t bring gifts to a ghost if those objects might further “hold” the ghost in this realm. For example, toys that a child’s ghost might not want to leave behind. (The sentiment is lovely, but don’t give ghosts an additional reason to linger here.)

If you’ve already left something you feel that you shouldn’t have, contact the owner or managers of the site. Ask them to remove it, with a kindly explanation – out loud – to the ghost. (If you left something at a cemetery, contact a team that tours it regularly. In most cases, cemetery staff routinely dispose of perishable items every few weeks, anyway.)

Love, Hate, Provoking, and Triggers

Provoking can be useful in extreme situations.

Instead, with more research and closer observation, you might learn enough about the ghost to establish rapport.

Understand who your ghost probably was, and reasons why he or she might remain at the site.

It’s easy to say “unfinished business,” as a catch-all reason. But, with a few hours’ research, you can dig deeper. You may find a personal connection.

That could lead to more productive EVPs, or other communications. As they say, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”

Also, personalized, real-time communications might help you learn even more about the ghost, to help him or her let go of the past… and move on. It could be a real, productive conversation.

Of course, if the ghost is rather mad and stuck in the past, he or she might respond with anger, once his/her name is known. The ghost might have secrets and fear you’ll expose them. (Perhaps the only reason ghost remains here is to keep his or her secrets concealed.)

Tread carefully if the atmosphere changes and you sense hostility. It may be best to leave, evaluate the evidence and team members’ reports. And then decide you next, best plan for that site.

Summary

Smart ghost hunters get better results when they go beyond the “everyone knows” stories, and learn more about the ghosts.

Behind almost every haunting is a story of disappointment. If you know that story, the ghosts are almost certain to respond more quickly and clearly.

Dig into history. Look closely at everything “old” at the site. Ask why it’s there. Is there a story behind it?

Listen to your intuition and pay attention to the mood – the emotional energy – at the site. It can be your biggest clue.

Old records – family histories, newspaper articles, obituaries, court records, and even cemetery inscriptions – can help you understand the real stories behind hauntings.

Communications may improve, including EVP and real-time responses through ghost hunting tools.

In most cases, kindness will evoke a far better response – and outcome – than provoking. Given a choice, I think most ghosts would prefer love and understanding rather than antagonism and taunts.

Let me know if you have questions, and also what happens when you try these methods.

Ghosts, Love, Provoking, and Triggers [Part 1]

In ghost hunting, provoking works. It’s not very nice, but we’ve seen it work in our own investigations and on TV shows.

As a last-hope effort to see if a site is truly haunted – and help the homeowner – provoking can be justified.

Otherwise…? No. Saying it’s rude or mean would be an understatement.

It’s bullying, plain and simple. 

What if there was another way to trigger ghosts, or even help them find the peace they seek?

At the root of most hauntings, you’ll find stories of love and hate. Understanding them can radically improve your ghost hunting results.

Love and Hate at Haunted Places

Hate is useful for provoking, maybe we need to look deeper.

What so wounded the ghost that he or she became angry, resentful, or even hate-filled? Staying here – instead of crossing over – what situation is he trying to reverse?

By looking one layer deeper, you’ll probably find expectations and love – romantic love, greed (love of money), or trust (relying on someone the ghost trusted).

You might get better ghost hunting results if you appeal to the ghost’s true (or at least earlier), kinder nature.

In this article, you’ll learn a few ways to uncover clues to the full story behind the hauntings.

  • You can use those clues to establish rapport with the site’s ghosts.
  • Or, you might identify triggers (and trigger objects) that work better than provoking.

Both of those can make ghost hunting far more interesting and productive.

Start with the Stories

Every haunted site has a story. That might be an “everyone knows” tale, popular with teens and young adults. Or, you might hear it from a local historian or folklore expert.

Research everything. Some of the best historical resources weren’t available until the last few years. Older ghost stories might be more fiction than fact.

Look for flaws in those stories, such as:

  • Wrong time period. (If the ghost wears a modern tie, he’s probably not from the American Revolution.)
  • No records that fit the story. Let’s say people believe the ghost is John Doe, who built the house. Be sure someone named John Doe either lived in the house, was a local builder, or had a direct connection with the homeowners.
  • Urban legend. Some ghost stories show up dozens of times. Maybe more. Perhaps one of them is true, but raise an eyebrow if you can’t find any credible, first-person encounters, and similar stories show up on a site like TVTropes.org.

Tip: Sometimes a story is half-true. Don’t toss aside a local legend because one part of never happened. The name or date might be wrong. That’s okay. Even the most bizarre ghost stories can have a kernel of truth.

If there’s more than one tale, choose the one that makes the most sense to you. Choose the one that “feels right” after you visit the site. Your impressions matter. You don’t have to be psychic to sense the energy or emotional tone of the location.

Ghostly Clues: What’s There?

Many ghost hunters are so busy looking for ghostly noises or apparitions, or so focused on their ghost hunting equipment, they miss clues “hiding in plain sight.”

When you arrive at a haunted site, what’s there? What portraits are on the wall? Are any objects really old… and look a little odd in that setting?

If the homeowner or a historian shows you something that belonged to a previous owner, tenant, or visitor, why is it still there? What does it tell you about possible ghosts?

Sometimes, people keep an object – clothing, jewelry, furniture, artwork, books, and so on – that belonged to deceased friends or relatives. There’s usually a story behind it.  I’m not saying the object is haunted, though it might be.

Several times, I’ve noticed a shabby chair or an ugly painting in a home where the rest of their decor was ultra-modern and stylish.

When I’ve asked the homeowner why he or she kept it, the answer is – almost always – “I don’t know why. It just felt wrong to get rid of it… I can’t explain it.”

Usually, that object links to the haunting. It’s part of the ghost’s story.

Consider these possibilities:

  • Perhaps the object belonged to a lost love, or someone who died early in life.
  • Maybe it was a memento of a friend, relative, or lover who abruptly moved or ended the friendship with no explanation.
  • It might be something the ghost remains attached to… and doesn’t want to leave behind. (He or she refused to believe “you can’t take it with you.”)

Some clues are more obvious than others. For example, if you see a pin like the one in the next photo, study it closely.

Victorian mourning jewelry - woven hair
Photo courtesy Thayne Tuason [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
You might glance at that brooch on top of a dresser or sideboard and think it’s woven fabric or wire.

It’s not. It’s someone’s hair. And that person is dead now.

The ghost might be the person who owned that pin, or the person whose hair is woven in it.

(Search for “Victorian pictures made from hair.” You’ll see how commonplace this was in the 19th century. And yes, it’s kind of creepy.)

Check it for unusual EMF, and for nearby EVP or hot/cold spots.

In the past, almost every object kept by someone had significance. Remember, before the middle of the 20th century, the average person didn’t own many things.

So, sometimes, that jewelry, portrait, or man’s jacket hanging in a woman’s wardrobe tells an important story.

During an investigation, try asking – out loud – who’s in the painting or photo, or if the item had special meaning for the ghost.

See what reaction you get, if – to the ghost – it looks like you’re about to touch or move the object. (If it’s fragile or you don’t have permission, don’t actually touch it.)

Tip: If you see old portraits at a haunted site, and you’re not sure who they are, take photos. Then use something like Google Image Search to see if the portrait – especially a photo – is online with additional information.

Next week, the second (concluding) part of this article: Historical records, putting it all together, and how to use it.

Power, Passion, and Haunted Sites

Are you tired of investigating the same old sites everyone visits? Maybe it’s time to try a different approach. A little research can produce surprising results.

I know, because I’ve scouted haunted locations for TV producers.

I usually bypass well-known places where tragedies occurred. Many scenes of betrayal and murder have been over-investigated.

So, I look for other clues.

In this article, I’ll share some of my best tips for finding haunts.

They’re often “hiding in plain sight.”

Sometimes, you’ll start with locations connected to power – rich people, politicians, deceased local celebrities (famous and infamous), and battlegrounds.  Now and then, one hasn’t been investigated much… or at all.

But, even better – and often ignored – are places that associated with (or that triggered) passion. For example, in the “Wild West,” those are saloons and streets where gunfights occurred.  Some started over money or love. Others involved boasts and bravado. Either way, emotions ran high.

In some communities, specific parks were used for regular, clandestine duels over money or – more often – the love of a woman.

A few locations may come to mind right away. Start there.

Then, dig deeper for sites connected to love, jealousy, passion, awe, fascination… and the occasional movie or TV show.

Buildings Almost Demolished

Most of us have heard of haunted “ruins.” Old churches, hospitals, and orphanages are among them.

Look for buildings once scheduled for destruction. For example, in 1944, in Salem, Massachusetts (aka “Witch City”), Jonathan Corwin’s home just barely escaped the wrecking ball. The owners moved the house back on the property (partially over what had been a church cemetery), and today it’s known as “The Witch House.”

When people are passionate about preserving a site, it may be haunted as well. Something from the past seems to linger there, making it important. Local historical societies and preservation groups proudly list the locations they’ve saved from destruction. Visit those groups’ websites, or ask them for a list. (You don’t have to explain that you’re a ghost hunter. In fact, some may find that interest disturbing.)

Those lists may reveal great stories of love, hatred, and jealousy… and worthwhile haunts. 

Sites that Inspired Books, Art, and Music

Artists and writers often have a knack for spotting eerie places where ghosts linger. A local museum or playlist might provide surprising clues.

True stories and real, haunted places inspired many Gothic romances written in the late 19th century and the 1960s. Check biographies of the authors. See if they describe tales and locations that led to their creepier stories. (For examples, see 14 True Stories behind Stephen King Books.)

Music is only slightly easier to research. But, when you find a ghost connection, it’s usually reliable and like pure gold for ghost hunting.

In my book, The Ghosts of Austin, Texas, I mentioned Concrete Blonde’s song, Ghost of a Texas Ladies Man. They wrote it about a popular ghost at Austin’s Driskill Hotel. (I lost count of all the ghosts supposed to haunt that hotel, and every story rang with authenticity.)

An anecdote claims Black Sabbath’s song, Black Sabbath, describes their bassist’s encounter with a ghost. (Does anyone know where it happened? That could be an interesting site to investigate.)

And then there’s art. That’s easier to research and identify.

Local museums, historical societies, and libraries may know about famous (and lesser-known) paintings of local sites.  (That’s different from haunted paintings.) If the conversation flows, you could try asking if about related, haunted sites. Be cautious if you’ll want to interview that source again, later; some historians don’t like ghost hunting, even if they tell ghost stories, themselves.

The art is the clue. Look for paintings that are stylish. Moody. Even eerie.

In general, when someone is so inspired and passionate about a place to create art about it, explore that site. What made the artist choose it, instead of a dozen similar, nearby locations?

Tip: Also look at what was behind the artist when he or she painted. Sometimes, the real haunt is the place he turned his back to.

Of course, it’s easier if the artists are still alive. Ask them what drew them to each location, and what seemed to resonate with them.

Often, the musician, painter, or writer can’t explain their fascination with the site or its story. They’ll say, “I don’t know, there was just something about it that haunted me.”

Bingo. You’ve found a site worth investigating.

Extraordinary Homes

Many – perhaps most – unusual homes were built by eccentric and wealthy individuals. Those homeowners and architects may still haunt those houses. Or, perhaps something about the location – the history of the land – is what sparked the person’s impulse to build something “different.”

Does a nearby community offers self-guided historical tours or architectural walking tours? You might find a few sites worth revisiting with some ghost hunting equipment.

Halloween Haunted Houses

Almost every area has some kind of “haunted” attraction at Halloween.  Ghostly energy remains at many of them, at least residual energy – the terror experienced by some visitors. Investigate those sites, if you have permission to visit after-hours.

Some sites may offer ghost tours immediate after Halloween, before they take down the decorations. (This includes creepy corn mazes.) Ask them if you can investigate for a small fee. Some sites might welcome a few more dollars from seasonal interests.

Film and TV Locations

Of course, people know about sites featured on Ghost Hunters, Ghost Adventures, and so on.

But what about locations used for movies and TV shows?

Start with locations of paranormal-themed productions. Sometimes, the actual haunted site wasn’t available, or it was considered “unsafe” by the producers’ insurance company.

So, they film elsewhere.

And then that location seems haunted, too.

How to Find Haunted Sets

A search for “haunted movie sets” will point you to some of the more famous haunted locations used in films and TV shows.

(If you search for “haunted TV sets,” you’ll find weird TVs sold on eBay. And if you search for “haunted TV locations,” the listings are for Most Haunted show sites, and so on.)

When you’re traveling, ask at your hotel’s front desk, or the local tourism/visitors’ center. Many of them have lists of filming locations, but you may have to ask.

For example, Houmas House is one of Louisiana’s most vividly haunted mansions. Until a New Orleans tourism official told me about it, I had no idea that Houmas House was used for filming Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte. (That’s a dark story of passion and jealousy.)

I’ve investigated Houmas House and can vouch for its apparitions, even one by the gate. I saw it in broad daylight.

In your community, ask at the public library and any newspaper offices. Tell them you’re looking for places where movies, commercials, and TV shows were filmed.

Back issues of newspapers – if they’re indexed – might point you to some unexpected haunts, too. Some may be online.

Great Lovers and “The Other Woman”

Sites of passionate love affairs might be the most overlooked haunts. Those stories might explain ghosts at hotels where nothing violent ever happened. (I’m thinking of hotels like the Sise Inn, in Portsmouth, NH.)

If someone in your community was famous – perhaps a dashing hero or tragic poet – find out if he or she had a secret (or not-so-secret) lover.

Skip the hero’s house. Go directly to where the secret lover lived. That’s where the passion was. And the arguments. And the drama. (I’ve heard so many related ghost stories, I’m tempted to paraphrase a popular saying, “behind every famous man… was a woman, scorned, and still angry about it.”)

You’ll find examples at the following link. They may help you understand what to look for, close to your home: Tales of Ghostly Lovers and Spooky Soul Mates

Ghosts and Passion

Among overlooked haunts, my favorite discoveries have had a running theme. It’s all about passion – love, fascination, overwhelming desires – and sometimes romance.

Many other ghost hunters focus on places where deaths occurred. Those locations can be intensely, frighteningly haunted.

Don’t limit yourself to places of violence. Look for sites where emotions ran high, and ghosts may return to relive their most passionate moments.

And I hope you’ll leave a comment when you find a site like that.

 

 

Love, Hate, Vengeance, and Ghosts

Love and ghosts… do they go together? Maybe, but not as I’d expected.

Of course, paranormal romances are popular. Usually, the hero (the love interest) is a ghost, trapped here or with unfinished business.

A (living) woman falls in love with him, and – after overcoming many obstacles – there’s a “happily ever after” at the conclusion.

That’s not what I’ve encountered at haunted sites.

Oh, there’s the occasional handsome, male ghost. He’s not looking for romance. Not in this plane of existence, anyway.

But… are any ghosts here, looking for love, or seeking a “lost” lover from their past?

Perhaps. I’m not sure.

Most haunted places feature themes related to money, power struggles, drama, or tragedy. (I’d always figured love was part of “drama.” Love might fit the tragedy trope, too.)

Female ghosts seem to have the most romantic connections… but rarely in a happy way.

Using “love” and “romance” as general terms, I’ve identified three romance-related categories.

  1. Ghosts of rejected and mistreated women. Some aren’t ready to let go of the past.
  2. Female spirits who continue to protect the homes they lived in, or their descendants.
  3. Happy, ghostly couples, haunting places where they socialized and partied.

Sad and Angry Female Ghosts

Many female ghosts were driven to their deaths, or even murdered. Most cases involved a man.

The most iconic might be the Japanese ghost of Oiwa-San. After her husband poisoned her and married a rich merchant’s daughter, Oiwa got her revenge in a particularly ugly way. The new wife died, and – in some versions of the story – the husband did not fare well, either.

But, though Oiwa-san died in 1636, her ghost lingers, and – even today – she may curse people. The evidence is unsettling. (Research it at your own risk. I’ve included links at the foot of this article.)

In England, a young girl in a white dress haunts Hiorne Tower, at Arundel Castle. She threw herself off a tower, and – apparently – continues to do so, many nights, especially around the new moon. Hers was a case of unrequited love.

Note: I’ve heard very few stories of haunted “lovers’ leaps.” If love was such a powerful element in hauntings, shouldn’t there be more, similar tales?

At Edith Wharton’s home, The Mount, Ms. Wharton mutters in her library. It’s practically a stage whisper. (I’ve heard it.) In French, she’s complaining about her husband.

The following is a video of Jeff Belanger discussing the hauntings at The Mount, and part of it is filmed in the library. (Ms. Cox says that no one hears voices there. I heartily disagree.)

New England Legends: The Mount | Connecting Point | Oct. 28, 2015

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Edith Wharton’s home, the Mount, in Lenox, Massachusetts is renowned for its beauty and majesty – but there’s also a sinister s…

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/kSngQFZZrBI

Something curious in that interview: Ms. Cox describes Henry James sitting in that library, as well. Two generations of my family had a close, often daily connection with Henry James and his family. I’m wondering if that connection is one reason I heard a voice in that room.

In Louisiana, a ghost called Chloe appears, usually outside the Myrtles Plantation’s main house. There’s no truth to the story of her poisoning the two children. But, she’s such a solid apparition, people have photographed her in full daylight. Perhaps she’s angry at being accused of (and remembered for) something vicious, when she was entirely innocent.

California’s Hotel del Coronado is where you’ll find Mrs. Morgan’s famous ghost. Is she looking for her husband? He was a conman and ruthless gambler. After seven years of marriage, Kate Morgan checked into the hotel alone as “Lottie A. Bernard.” Then, she bought a gun. Four days later, they found her shot through the head, on a path to the beach. The verdict was suicide. Later investigations suggest the bullet didn’t match the gun found in her hand.

This one-minute video is a little theatrical, but it shows the hotel room and the beach that Kate Morgan haunts.

The Ghost of Kate Morgan at the Hotel del Coronado near San Diego CA

http://bit.ly/HotelDel | http://on.fb.me/DelFacebook – The legendary Hotel del Coronado, San Diego’s landmark Pacific resort, has been experiencing paranorma…

The Kate Morgan video is at https://youtu.be/Vv15FL-h1q4

This five-minute video is more authentic, and tells more of the story. You’ll also learn about an even more haunted room at that hotel. (The beginning of this video has a deliberate jitter. The rest of the video is fine.)

The Haunting at Hotel del Coronado

San Diego’s grand Hotel del Coronado sparkles in the California sun. It’s a popular seaside resort, a National Historic Landmark, and a very haunted hotel. A…

That video is at https://youtu.be/BlKr6UICLW4

“Resurrection Mary” – Urban Legend?

Chicago’s “Resurrection Mary” is a classic tale. Other communities have similar stories. Are any of them real, or is this just a fictional ghost story?

In the Chicago version – easily one of the most popular – Mary died in a car accident after fighting with her boyfriend. Is she trying to get back to the dance hall where they fought, or fleeing from him?

Here’s a Travel Channel clip about Resurrection Mary, including a theory about her grave. (Their version of Mary’s death is one of several. She may have been walking, or in a car at the time of the accident.)

Resurrection Mary – Justice Illinois (travel channel)

The famous Resurrection Mary, known to be roaming the grounds of Resurrection Cemetery and Archer Avenue in Justice Illinois.

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/pXrEWc-Lh4E

This list could go on & on. It nearly always involves a romance gone wrong, and a premature death.

Protective Female Ghosts

Brown Lady of Raynham Hall
Brown Lady of Raynham Hall

If you study ghosts who protect homes and families, nearly all of them are women.

Banshees are female. They protect their families, and – as a group – they also protect the community. Before a major tragedy occurs in Ireland, people report the wail of the banshee (bean sidhe).

Green Ladies are, of course, female. They protect the homes they lived in. Usually, those homes are in Scotland, but Ocean-Born Mary is an American “green lady.”

Not all protective female ghosts wear green. Some wear white, and one of the most famous is the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall. So far, whether the photo is credible depends on when you research those who’ve tried to debunk it, and whom you believe.

Every one of these spirits seems to care deeply for her home or family, or both. So, I consider them ghosts who remain for love.

Mysterious Female Ghosts

A few female ghost stories are… odd.

For example, there’s the “Grey Lady” of Hitchin Priory in Hertfordshire, England. She wears a long grey dress but no coat or wrap to stay warm, even on the coldest nights. The big question is: Why does she haunt the former home of monks? Was romance part of the story?

If you're interested in Hitchin Priory's ghosts, you can see an in-depth investigation there, in a 45-minute video at YouTube: https://youtu.be/tmBhwQfVK_w

Then there’s the nun telling her beads (saying the rosary) around the Borley Rectory site. One popular story is that she was from a nearby nunnery and planned to run away with a monk from Borley Rectory.

Someone caught them. He was hanged, and they bricked her up alive… but where? Is she still looking for her lover?

This seven-minute video was filmed by the BBC at Borley in 1975. Peter Underwood – one of the 20th century’s most important paranormal researchers – explains the ghost stories.

The Ghost Hunters (clip 1) BBC documentary

A groundbreaking BBC documentary made in 1975. This first clip features Borley Rectory and Church, reputedly England’s most haunted place. You see an intervi…

That YouTube video is at https://youtu.be/5IcMi0gppVc

Ghostly Couples

Love, hate, vengeance, and ghostsEven before the 1937 Cary Grant film, Topper, people have believed in happy, ghostly couples.

From my experience, they exist. Almost every city seems to have at least one story of a ghost couple – or sometimes an entire, ghostly crowd – at a hotel, cafe, or club. I’ve witnessed several of them.

The Stanley Hotel, in Estes Park, Colorado (USA) – which inspired Stephen King’s book, The Shining – is haunted by Freelan Stanley, the founder of the hotel. He and his wife appear in the lobby and the billiard room, and the ghost of Flora (Stanley’s wife) plays the piano in the ballroom.

At New Orleans’ Hotel Monteleone, I’ve heard ghosts having a boisterous party in a reception room on the ground floor. They’re talking, dancing to ghostly music, and clinking glasses in the wee hours of the morning. If you approach the room, the noise decreases and the room is empty.

Love and Ghosts…?

I’m not sure love and ghosts go together. Add some hate and vengeance for a more credible connection.

But, when you’re looking for ghosts with dark romantic histories, women seem to dominate the scene.

If you know great stories of lovelorn ghosts – especially featuring men – I hope you’ll leave a comment. At the moment, this article seems tilted far to the female side, and I’d like a little balance. Surely there are a few male ghosts who linger in our world, recalling past loves?

More Resources

4 Easy Ghost Photo Mistakes – Even pros make them!

It’s easy for anyone – even pros – to make mistakes with ghost photos.

That includes me. (Yes, really. Even now, it’s far too easy to blunder with ghost photos.)

Ghost Photos Mistakes

Here are the four biggest mistakes I’ve seen in the field:

  1. Thinking everything “weird” in a photo is a ghost. Sometimes, normal explanations apply… sometimes they don’t.
  2. Not taking enough photos. Each time you take a picture, take a second one, or more. Those extra photos can help you separate what’s normal from a genuine anomaly.
  3. Thinking we can explain all ghost photos as dust, bugs, rain, etc. No, we can’t. Some really are paranormal.
  4. Ignoring the context. Context and personal impressions may be the single most-important part of ghost research… and they can be the easiest to overlook.

Let’s go through those four points, one by one.  They’re things I’ve learned over decades of trial-and-error research at haunted sites.

Thinking Everything Is a Ghost

We can explain some orbs. The #1 culprit is flying insects.

Those orbs are usually an irregular shape, like an oval instead of a nearly perfect circle.

Indoors or out, regularly look at lights – streetlights, flashlights (briefly turned on), and other lighting. See if any insects are swarming or flying past.

If you see flying insects, be especially aware of orbs in your photos.

Even better, have a friend (or team member) stand to the side, but a little in front of you. Have him/her look for anything highlighted by your flash, when you take the picture.

And then, be sure to note that, either on a notepad or with a voice recording.

Likewise, dust happens. 

The way to identify something that might be dust, is to see if – in sequential photos or video – it falls straight down because of gravity.

A straight line across the photo could be a camera glitch, or a flying insect, but it’s unlikely to be dust.

On a humid or rainy night, you may see several dozen orbs in your photos. If all – or most – of your photos show a massive number of orbs, maybe it’s the weather. (Just one or a few orbs that show up now & then…? They could be paranormal.)

The weather isn’t the only culprit when you see a lots of orbs, or a fine (but mysterious) mist. It could be your breath, even if the weather isn’t especially cold. (Don’t exhale until after taking each picture.)

I wish I’d known the breath issue when I took the following Gilson Road photo. I might have done some on-site debunking, right away. (Instead, I’ll never know if this was a genuine anomaly.)

Weird photo from Gilson Cemetery

Always consider normal explanations, even if they seem a little weird at first. And test your cameras (including your phone) at not-haunted sites, to see what dust, pollen, reflective surfaces, and humidity look like.

The two worst culprits are flying insects and your own breath as you exhale. In photos, either of them can produce cool, weird, ghostly looking anomalies.

Not Taking Enough Photos

At any haunted location, it’s essential to take two to four pictures in rapid succession. Try not to breathe or move, in between those photos.

Then, you can compare one photo with another, to see what – if anything – changed. The changes might help rule out false anomalies.

Ghost Photos - context mattersAlso, be sure to pause regularly and take photos to your right, to your left, and in back of you. Later, they’ll help you identify sources of false anomalies.

(They may also show you unexpected anomalies. Not all ghosts strike a pose for the camera. Some might flee in the other direction… in back of you.)

Indoors, take photos in other, nearby rooms.

Outdoors, walk a few hundred yards away – or up the road – and take photos.

One of the big questions to ask when you see an anomaly in a photo is: Why this anomaly, at this location?

If the anomalies show up everywhere, even 1/4 mile up the road, it might be dust or humidity or insects.

If you see few (or no) anomalies anywhere else, and there’s no easy explanation… it might be a ghost.

Thinking All Orbs Can’t Be Paranormal

Ghost orb at Fort GeorgeMany skeptics (and ill-advised investigators) insist that all orbs are dust, pollen, humidity, rain, reflections, and so on.

I know because, before I tested how likely those explanations are, I insisted we could explain most orbs. (At the time, it seemed logical.)

Yes, I was wrong.

I feel terrible about misleading people about orbs, even if it was unintentional. Please accept my apologies if I misled you.

Today, we can’t just brush them off as dust, rain, etc.

Six years of testing, under a variety of conditions, showed me that. (Yes, I was so sure I was right, I kept testing. And testing. And testing… until I had to admit I was wrong.)

Here are a few of my test photos.

NOLA - Pirates Alley, on a foggy, rainy night
Rainy, foggy night with bright lights. No orbs.
Flash reflected in glass. Lots of glass & metal objects in shop windows. Traffic cone with reflective surface. No orbs.
Toulouse Street, New Orleans.
Another damp, foggy night. Lots of bright lights. No ghost orbs.

Where’s the Proof?

The fact is, if you set things up “just so,” you can mimic almost everything we consider paranormal. That includes:

  • Apparitions (tricks of the light)
  • Shadow people (didn’t notice a light source & reasonable shadow)
  • Doors that open & close by themselves (bad carpentry or the building’s foundation shifted over time)
  • UFOs (experimental or low-flying aircraft)
  • Bigfoot (big guy in a costume)

… and so on.

(But ghost orbs…? Not so easy.)

My point is: if you’re looking for 100% irrefutable proof that something is a ghost – or that ghosts exist, at all – you’re likely to be disappointed.

For now, the only real proof is how the experience affects people, or if – in the light of day – they can explain whatever-it-was with confidence.

Ignoring the Context

If your memory isn’t perfect, take notes during the investigation.

The context matters. What else was going on, when you took those photos?

Was everyone bored or unimpressed by the location?

If that didn’t change around the time you took the unusual photos, it decreases the likelihood .

However, if several things happened at once – to you, or those near you – like chills, an uneasy feeling, an unexplained noise – take your photos more seriously.

In recent years, people have relied heavily on evidence in the form of gadgets – ghost hunting equipment, usually electronic. They’ve paid less attention to their personal experiences and observations.

Or worse, they’ve dismissed them altogether.

The biggest mistake in ghost hunting – not just ghost photos – is ignoring what your own five (or six) senses are telling you.

Pay close attention to them, and you’ll be a better ghost hunter… and take better ghost photos.


Related articles at this website:

More ghost photos articles, online:

Ghost Hunting – 5 1/2 Pre-Investigation Steps

Did you know…? The very best place to start ghost hunting is at home. Here’s why…

It’s not because your home may be haunted. (Of course, it might be.  If you’re a ghost enthusiast, that could be a plus.)

It’s because you can learn so much that will be useful later, when you investigate the site.

And, nearly all of this research can be done at home – or even during your lunch break – with Internet access.

In my recent article series about haunted Eden Camp and the ghosts of Malton, England, I explained what I look for, with examples from those locations.

Here’s exactly what I do…

5 1/2 Pre-Investigation Steps

First, I look for ghost stories. (This is the half-step. If I’m investigating a private home, their may be no ghost stories at all.)

If I find some, I check them against history. Do historical events and people match the stories?

A bogus story can diminish the likelihood of the site being haunted, but I won’t dismiss it altogether.

Maybe King Henry VIII or George Washington didn’t spend the night in that haunted castle or home. A similar-looking ghost – a different man in royal robes or a Revolutionary war uniform – might haunt the sites.

Then, I check for ley lines. I’m looking for nearby haunts and reported anomalies, or places that usually have ghosts.

Those include:

  • Cemeteries and rumored “ancient burial grounds.”
  • Battlefields or where skirmishes occurred.
  • Significant historical monuments.
  • Current or former sites of institutions such as hospitals, orphanages, and prisons.

I want to “connect the dots” with a straight line between the site I’m investigating and at least two other haunted/anomalous/weird locations.

After that, I look for other patterns… things that connect the investigation site to other, similar haunts.

For example, in Austin (Texas), I discovered ghosts at nearly every site related to Abner Cook and bricks from haunted Shoal Creek.

So, I look at geography, history, related sites (nearby or in other areas), etc.

Next, I dig into ancient history.  In Britain, that’s usually related to the Celts, Vikings, and Romans. In the US and Canada, I research Native American history, and which locations were considered “sacred” or “forbidden.”

The last online (and library) research step involves recent history. 

I’m not just looking for ghost stories. I’m also looking for extraordinary people and events – and related secrets – that can indicate a haunting.

Crime reports and court cases (reported in local newspapers) can provide some of the best insights.

The final step is to ask, “What’s weird?”

That is, what leaps out as different? What location or person or moment in history seems to linger in my mind, as something odd?

In a series of “odd” things – like the Salem Witch Trials – whatever stands out is usually connected to the darkest history of the area. 

I keep notes from those five research sessions: ghost stories, ley lines, other patterns, ancient history, recent history, and “what’s weird?”

Those give me a context – and possibly credible support – for whatever we’ll find during the on-site investigation.

And, with those clues, the investigation can be more focused. We can find the “hot spots” of ghostly phenomena – EVP, cold spots, apparitions, shadow people, and so on – faster than if we’re just… well… working in the dark.