These aren’t ghost hunting rules. Each individual will have their own ideas of what’s okay and what isn’t.
Also, ghost hunting can be risky.
Small and subtle things can startle you the most. For example, it’s not always the eerie moaning noises that will raise the hairs on the back of your neck, but the fact that the surroundings are far too quiet.
Never use movies or TV shows as guidelines for paranormal research. In most cases, the investigators are pros (with years of experience), or the scene was at least somewhat staged. So, don’t rigidly copy what you see on TV.
1. Above all, be guided by common sense. Use your critical thinking skills.
2. Never go ghost hunting alone. Investigate with at least one companion.
3. Verify everything ahead of time. That includes the location, accessibility, safety, and related issues ahead of time. Check each site during daytime hours, first, to identify parking, paths, and hazards. Carry a working flashlight, even during daytime ghost hunts.
4. Be sure you’re comfortable.
- Dress for the weather and the location. Wear suitable clothing, especially sturdy footwear.
- Don’t eat a heavy meal immediately before ghost hunting, but don’t arrive hungry, either.
- Do not drink alcohol or use recreational drugs before or during a ghost hunt. (If you’re on medication that might impair your judgment, talk with your doctor about “hiking, after dark” and how risky that might be.)
5. Never trespass on private or posted property. Get clear and specific permission from the owners or authorities. If others have had problems with this, get permission in writing. (Bring your own form for the owner to sign. From my experience: it helps if you include a clause that frees them from all liabilities connected with your research.)
6. Leave immediately and cheerfully if the police or owners ask you to, even if the property is not posted. Provide photo ID if the police ask. Smiling helps.
7. Leave immediately if you become unreasonably frightened at any location – haunted or not. If you feel prompted to leave a site, always listen to your gut instinct.
8. You have more to fear from the living than from the dead. Many haunted sites are isolated. They’re attractive to people engaged in illegal activities. Use caution.
Paranormal research attracts con artists. Be aware of the warning signs.
Be aware of your personal space in dark settings. Rarely, a sexual predator takes advantage of the darkness to touch, fondle, slap, scratch, or behave inappropriately in other ways. If you suspect this is going on, step away from the person and speak up immediately.
9. Never speak ill of the dead. Avoid sarcasm and jokes in haunted settings. Sometimes, angry spirits seem to “get even.”
10. Ghosts are not likely to follow you home. If you are frightened and leave a haunted location, the spirits generally do not go with you and after you leave the site, they cannot affect your thoughts. (If something seems to follow you, it’s probably not a ghost.)
11. After a ghost hunt, if you are troubled by unwanted thoughts, do your best relax. Eat some comfort food. Watch a happy movie or TV show. Put on some upbeat music and dance. Talk to a friend who understands ghost hunting. Spend some time in a church.
If the unwanted thoughts persist, see a professional for advice. (A minister or priest may be the best place to start. Trust only mainstream, respected, full-time religious ministers in your community, not online.)
12. Ouija boards and related devices can “open a door” to unpleasant and dangerous entities. For those reasons, do not use a Ouija board during investigations.
(In fact, unless you’re a pro with years – and years, and years – of experience, don’t let anything “talk through” you. That includes pendulums, automatic writing, and so on. If you give any spirit permission to use your body, even implied permission, you’re at risk.)
13. Never rely on your phone in haunted settings. Often, especially if there’s odd or ghostly energy at the site, your phone won’t work. (Step across the street and the phone is likely to work again.)
This also applies to all ghost hunting equipment that’s powered with batteries. Batteries suddenly losing charge is among the first signals that the site may be haunted.
14. The ghosts may consider the haunted site their “home.” Be as polite as you would in someone else’s home.
15. Ghosts do not “possess” people without their consent. If someone or something seems to be taking control, tell it to stop. Put up your spiritual shields. Think rude thoughts at it, and generally picture yourself as a bigger bully than the spirit is. This does work in most cases.
However, if you – or someone you know – seems “possessed,” consult a real-life member of the mainstream clergy, immediately, and offline. The problem may not be a ghost.
16. Generally, you cannot help a ghost-like entity. Many ghosts seem tied to their earthly locations because they want to change something that happened in the past.
You can’t change the past, and some ghosts aren’t really interested in anything else. They can be like petulant children. They want attention. Don’t take their ploys seriously.
Note: If you’re involved in ghost hunting to help spirits “cross over,” that’s a ministry. However, it should not be attempted casually or without extensive training in an actual, offline ministerial context such as a school of divinity. A lengthy apprenticeship is recommended. This can be a very dangerous field.
17. There are no documented cases of someone being seriously physically harmed by a ghost.
Minor injuries can happen, especially at sites that aren’t well maintained, or if you’re walking in the dark.
Also, some older sites have mold, mildew, and other air quality issues. At least one researcher has died from this. Wear a mask in dusty sites, or – at the very least – have a mask in your ghost hunting kit, in case the air quality is bad.
If you’re worried about your safety, choose a different hobby.
18. It’s okay for ghost hunting events and tours to charge admission. However, on private ghost hunts, if someone is charging you money as if they’re providing a show… perhaps they are. Caveat emptor.
If you disagree with these guidelines, we urge you to create your own website and offer alternative opinions. (But, if you copy this page or spin it, please link to Hollow Hill.)
My opinions are based on over 30 years of paranormal research, but I don’t claim to “know it all.” I welcome others’ opinions.