Ghost Investigations and Touching

“Touching” occurs at some ghost investigations.  The sensation of touch is among our five (or six) senses, and it’s one way that spirits may attempt to make contact… literally.

Normal touching

During a ghost investigation, you may feel:

  • A ghostly hand touch or brush your face or neck.
  • A gentle brush, as if you’re walking through spiderwebs, even when you’re sitting still.
  • Isolated hot or cold areas, often measured with a thermometer.
  • A ghostly breath, particularly near the investigator’s face.
  • A slap, push, or shove.  Nothing too aggressive.
  • Something leaning into you, encouraging (or forcing) you to move in a certain direction.
  • Hair brushed, tugged or pulled.
  • Clothing grasped or tugged.
  • A sensation that the air is denser, as if you’re walking through water or molasses.
  • A feeling that the air is pressing on you, in one direction or from all sides.
  • Tapping on a shoulder or back.
  • Letters of the alphabet “written” with a ghostly finger, especially on the back of your hand or on your back.

There are many variations of these sensations.  All are routine — if sometimes rare — at ghost investigations.  Usually, they’re nothing to be alarmed about.

If you’re uncomfortable with that, ask the ghost (or ghosts) to stop.  In most cases, they will.

Also, let others know what happened right away, so they can check the area for EMF surges or other paranormal activity.

Inappropriate touching

If the ghost is touching you inappropriately, you must bring that to the attention of others in your group.

This is a rare occurrence, but it happens now & then.  Though more women seem to be “touched” than men, it’s not a gender-specific issue.

It is not okay for a ghost to ignore your boundaries.  Keep in mind, most ghosts are from an era when touching — especially of a sexual nature — was even less acceptable than it is now.

Times have changed, and so have the cues

As the song, “Anything Goes,” reminds us:

“In olden days, a glimpse of stocking
“Was looked on as something shocking.”

Likewise, in the early 19th century, a kiss was considered so significant, some expected a marriage proposal to follow immediately.

Through the early 20th century, a single man and woman would avoid being together (but otherwise alone)  in a room with the door closed. That was against the rules of propriety.

So, the range of what’s inappropriate is even broader when you’re dealing with a ghost.  Depending on his or her context, any touching could be a warning sign for investigators.

What ghosts expect

Some of our most colorful investigations (and ghost stories) are related to locations that were once bordellos.  Wunsche Cafe in Old Town Spring, Texas, is one.  Oilcan Harry’s in Austin, Texas, is another.

So, some ghosts may not realize that investigators — particularly women — cannot be treated as the people who once worked at the brothel.

If you have concerns, state the rules and boundaries out loud.

Also remember that women in trousers were regarded differently prior to the early 20th century.  In general, women’s bodies were far more concealed — by corsets, bustles and loose-fitting clothing — than today.

Language considered crude (in the ghost’s era) can also send a confusing signal to ghosts.  In fact, speaking directly to a ghost — without introducing yourself first — could be considered very forward, in their world.

The ghosts may not reply (since, as far as they’re concerned, you’re being rude) or think it’s an invitation for something you weren’t expecting.

It may help to announce your name, what you’re doing there, and the year you’re in, each time you investigate a different room or part of the site.

State the rules and boundaries out loud

It’s always better to be too careful than too casual, if you have concerns in a haunted location.  Set firm rules and boundaries at the start of each phase of the investigation, and explain them to the ghosts, out loud.

Then, if the ghost behaves inappropriately, he (or she) has no excuse for it. You’ll know right away that the ghost is ignoring your rules, if you’ve already made those rules clear.

If that happens, be sure you’re accompanied by several people, and that continued touching will not be tolerated.

Opportunistic touching

This additional issue is rare, but it’s worth discussing.  Even one “problem” in our community is a risk to all of us, as professionals.

We’re often researching in the dark.  Groups split up to investigate.  It’s important never to be alone with someone you don’t know, or with someone who makes you even a little uncomfortable.

Even in a group or crowd, stay away from people who give off a “bad vibe” or seem to make excessive eye contact.  (Or, at the other extreme, someone clearly avoiding any eye contact at all.)

If you feel very uncomfortable or uneasy, say something to a person in charge.  If the situation doesn’t improve, leave the investigation. (Ask to be escorted to your car.  Never leave a group by yourself, if you’re already anxious about your safety.)

Before accepting someone on your team, no matter how likable the person seems, check his or her background. Ask for ID, so you know what name to research.

When I recently heard about a ghost  investigator’s criminal record, I checked his name at the FBI’s National Sex Offender Public Website.  There was no record of his past problems, though I’d heard about them from an impeccable source.

I realized that I don’t know his real name. It’s routine for researchers to use a “pen name” to distance paranormal work from their personal and professional lives.

Also, nicknames can be very different from real names.  For example, Ted can be short for Theodore or Edward.  Nellie can be a nickname for Helen.  William is Bill and Robert can be Rob or Bob.  Elizabeth can be Beth, Betty, Eliza, Liz, and so on.

So, sex offender lists aren’t always reliable if you’re checking on someone you might be alone with.  (Check them anyway.) Always take precautions, and follow your “gut feeling” when you’re on a ghost tour or investigation.

I’ve always said: We have more to fear from the living than from the dead.

Use common sense

If your children want to go on a ghost tour or attend an event, they must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.  That’s not just about the tour guides, but a concern about others attending the tour or event, who might see the darkness as an opportunity.

Here’s the rule: If you feel that you’ve been touched (or had a physical encounter of any kind) — by a ghost or someone in physical form — say something immediately.

If you’re not comfortable with what happened, say that very clearly, too.

Don’t think it was all in your imagination.  Speak up, and let the other investigators (or guests) respond immediately.

After all, it might be a ghost manifesting so physically, we could catch an image in a photo, his/her voice in EVP, or measure other physical anomalies with EMF detectors, thermometers, and other tools.

14 thoughts on “Ghost Investigations and Touching”

  1. Good Advice. Wish I would of known more about ghosts when we had our encounters. My first encounter was terrifying-I froze. The next time, I tried what you said-just say no. I don’t think they realize how scary this is to us. Thankyou, for your advise.

  2. This has happened to me on a few occasions, and sometimes the “gentle brush” is difficult to process. In the hightened tension of the moment, you are inclined to over analyse it and write it off to an over active imagination. It is not unpleasent, more like a shiver down your spine. On one occasion, in full day light, while taking a walk through a local cemetary, my husband and I were discussing a friend who was experiencing marital difficulties. Everytime we mentioned her husbands name, I received a firm “tap” on the shoulder. At first, we were walking single file, I thought it was my husband, but we soon worked out we had a third guest on our walk. We started to look for graves with this name specifically and I received a “hug” as we stopped at one particular, so named, grave. It was a young man who had died in a mining accident early in the 20th century. We took time to pay our respects and acknowledge his life, my husband then distinctly heard a voice say “Fine, now”. I got one last brush and the atmosphere immediately “lightened”. Maybe just a lonely boy, waiting for a visitor?

    1. Sandra,

      Thanks for the great descriptions of your experiences! The young man may have just wanted attention — an acknowledgment that he’s there — and it’s nice that he sought you out, and that you were able to help him.

      Sincerely,
      Fiona

  3. I recently had an experience where I was standing in an empty room, alone,when I felt a cold hand moving across my back – almost tracing letters or just brushing my back? But this phenomenon carried on for a few minutes and kept giving me a cold feeling and made me very uneasy. I followed your instructions as I googled what to do and asked the ghost to “please stop now” after the experience. Is there anything else I should do ? do you have any thoughts on this?

    1. As long as the ghost stopped when you asked it to, that’s all you need. If it had continued after several requests, I suggest leaving the location immediately.

      On the other hand (no pun intended), I’m intrigued by the idea that the ghost might have been trying to trace letters – perhaps sending a message – on your back. I’ve heard of something similar in the past, and – though it’s rare – it’s an interesting concept.

    2. First of all let me introduce myself my name is Holly ever since I was a little girl I’ve had lots of gifts and always call them gifts from the Lord very spiritual I do a lot of ghost hunting the other night I had a pendulum to see if I was a portal myself and as I was using the portal other things happened but I’m not going to get into that I’m going to get into the main thing I felt a push light push I think I like a scratch as it pushes then and uncontrollable itch and I told my husband oh my God my back itches something is on my back he lifted up my shirt and there were two hand prints one was like three fingers and the other one look like 7 and it was red like him cramps and then blisters but not like water filled blisters and blisters and then I got into the water they lightly burnt I did not feel like it was danger but like a message or something I lost my mother I Lost My Baby and it is around that time of year for both but they were smaller handprints and I thought if it was something evil it would be extremely painful it was just a weird Encounter of itch and just like burn no pain but the whelps were there and the handprint my husband took pictures

      1. Hello, Holly, and I’m so sorry you’re dealing with such difficult challenges. What you’re describing isn’t ghostly. It’s something else, and you need to speak with your minister (or other mainstream member of the clergy), as soon as you can. Tell him or her exactly what happened. This is serious and needs immediate attention. It is definitely not something ghostly.

        Also, with this sort of thing going on, my advice is to stop using pendulums. Do not open to be a portal. Do not go ghost hunting, as you could put others at risk, too.

        Sincerely, Fiona

        1. Hello Fiona, my name is Barbara and I have been going through quite an ordeal which started July 20, 2019.. As I lay in bed on my back watching TV, ankles crossed just after 3am, I felt something poke my big toe really hard, within seconds I felt something lift up my bum from under the bed. After it wasn’t long after I fell asleep that I was awoken by a bump on my bed, always when I was almost asleep. This happened about 7 times, then I rolled over onto my right side and somethin pushed me with 2 hands on my back shoulder blade area. On the following night July 21st Again after 3am, there was more bumping, but always when I was on the verge of being asleep, over and over. I probably got 3 hours of sleep. July 22, afraid to shut off my light and try to go to sleep, I stayed awake until the sun was peakin through my shade. I shut off my light, TV and turned on my A/c..Within 5 minutes, while I was laying on my back, I felt hands grab each leg very hard.. I immediately yelled “leave me alone!” I then ran downstairs to sleep on the couch, hoping it wouln’t follow me and it didn’t.. I slept on the couch for 2 nights then braved it and went upstairs to my bed. Nothing happened again until Aug. 21st sometime after I was allowed to sleep, thinking it MIGHT be gone. I felt something sit on the bed behind me, thinking it was my daughter, I looked over my shoulder to nothing there.. Aug. 25th napping in my bed at 2:15pm, laying on my right side, arms crosssed in front of my face, when I heard and felt something blow on my wrists, ice cold. Aug. 26 after 3:00am continuing until 7:30am the “thing” got very physical, laying on my right side trying to fall asleep, it (I don’t know how it was/is able to do it) did something to make the muscles in my butt, left leg and left arm twitch, continuing for quite a while. It then proceeded to lift my left leg then drop it, then lifting my left hand then droping it. I then HEARD it walk over to the other side of my bed as there is a spot at the end of my bed that creeks when you step on it…I still lay on my right side, right arm extended over the edge of my bed, it then pushed my right hand. It then walked back over to the other side and pushed me with one hand on my shoulder, hard enough to make my face hit my mattress. At that point I yelled “LEAVE ME ALONE!” I was so scared I umped out of bed crying and opened my bedroom window where my friend, next door, was on her deck smoking a cigarette. SHE is the only person I have told about this. So crying my eyes off, in hysterics I tried to tell her what happened but couldn’t get it out. I left my room in my pajamas and walked over to her house trying to tell her what was wrong.. Tonight I am so terrified , because I think it’s going to be MUCH worse. It has been getting more physical each time and last night was the wost by far.. I am unsure what this is that’s tormenting only me as my daughter is across the hall and she has yet to be confronted by this thing (thank God).. PLEASE respond and let me know what it may be that has traumatized me for about a month. Thank you in advance! Barbara I am not sure how I will be contacted you with somewhat of an answer, maybe email? I am going to save this page also… PLEASE HEL ME!

          1. Barabra, please see the resources listed on my Contact page. As I’ve said on that page, “If you’re troubled by a ghost, demon, or other spirit, that’s not my area of expertise. Contact someone in real life.” And then I describe how to find help in your area.

  4. We have an issue in the house we are renting. Something holds down the sheets so you can’t move well and touches. It’s inappropriate (yet doesn’t feel “threatening”) and we want it to stop. Should we be more concerned? With me it lasted maybe 30 minutes but my daughter asked it to stop and didn’t. It went on for a very long time. She is terrified.

    1. Hello, Diana, and thanks for asking about this. There could be many explanations for what you and your daughter are experiencing. It could be anything from simple poltergeist activity – which is rarely just “simple” – to something more sinister.

      The fact that your daughter is terrified and you’re describing the activity as “inappropriate” is enough to speak with someone – in real life – about what’s going on.

      My advice is to speak with a priest or minister in a mainstream church in your area. It should be someone you trust, who will take you seriously and not leap to the extremes of it being “all in your imagination” or the polar opposite, claiming it’s demonic.

      Chances are, it’s neither. I’d start with a minister or priest because he or she has studied spiritual issues (and ghosts are “spiritual”), and has probably counseled many people about troubling matters with more mundane causes.

      Of course, you may want to reach out to the homeowners or previous tenants, to see if they’ve witnessed anything odd. If the problem is a ghost, you’re probably not the first person to encounter it. Not unless the spirit is a previous tenant.

      What’s most important is: get help, in real life, immediately. No one should feel terrified, especially in bed and especially when the person is supposed to be sleeping. Between the fear and sleep deprivation, you’re at risk in simple, everyday health terms. Add the possibility that something paranormal is going on and… well, I’m sure I’ve made my point.

      Talk with someone today.

      Sincerely, Fiona

    1. Sami, I haven’t a clue. A lot of paranormal reports make very little sense, in terms of what we’re accustomed to experiencing in everyday life. Of course, that’s why we keep looking for answers.

      In my opinion, “ghosts” is a catch-all term describing lots of different phenomena and kinds of entities. We’re a considerable distance from having a firm understanding of this field.

      Mostly, I’m cautious when someone reports being touched by a ghost, especially if the experience seemed very physical and made them uncomfortable. In the dark, it could be someone very much alive, and predatory.

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