Two and a half years ago my friend Renee and I co-founded a very successful paranormal group called the Sacramento Paranormal Investigation and Research Team or “SPIRiT.” Along the way we have we have discovered things that went way beyond anything we could ever have imagined.
When I look back at where we started compared to where we are now I am utterly amazed of our progress. There are many reasons for our success as paranormal investigators but the most important lesson we have learned is to always respect the dead, keep an open mind and never be afraid to seek advice about something you do not understand.
For anyone who has an interest in becoming a paranormal investigator or you are curious about the paranormal I am going to share some tips from my own journey as a ghost hunter.
Paranormal investigators all have one common goal, to communicate with the dead. What sets us apart is how we approach an investigation and what we do with the evidence that was collected during the investigation. There are many paranormal groups and the numbers are increasing daily but they all have a different mission. What you need to decide is what part of the paranormal interests you the most.
Types of Paranormal Investigators
Spiritual Based Groups
They groups are driven by the spiritual aspect of the paranormal. These groups are there to help the living let go and the dead to cross over. This type of belief system is old school and has been misunderstood since the Salem Witch trials, although they are accepted in society more now then ever before.
These groups are usually made up of Psychics and Mediums who have a strong spiritual connection to the dead. My group has a balanced mixture of psychics and science. Which means we are driven by the feelings of our psychic but we depend on science to produce tangible proof that ghosts exist.
Scientific Based Groups
These groups are usually client based which means that they investigate homes or businesses by the request of client. Their approach is based on evidence collected by using cameras, video equipment, recording devices. Or anything else that can used as solid proof that ghosts exist. Another approach is to use science to disprove a haunting. I believe this is what makes television show such as Ghost Hunters more believable then most.
Demonology is the study of demons, evil spirits and any other supernatural entities that are considered to be molevolent. Ed and Lorraine Warren were considered demonologists. Even though Ed has passed away Lorraine is still considered one of the top demonologists around. There are some paranormal groups out there that consider themselves to be demonologists but most are brought into a case by another group when needed.
Author Jeff Belanger coined the phrase “legend tripping.” This is a new type of paranormal investigator. According to Belanger these paranormal enthusiasts are more into experiencing a haunted location for a more monetary gain. They are also more likely to investigate a location that is more about multimedia then finding the truth.
These groups are least likely to work with a client. Some investigators have negative opinions about legend trippers while others believe that they are responsible for preserving the much older locations by documenting their investigations.
Once you have decided which path to take you will need to find equipment that is more suited to your needs. There are a lot of choices out there but my advice is start with the basics.
Ghost Hunting Equipment List
Audio recorders are used for capturing EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon). Spirits are made up of energy so in order to communicate with them this type of energy source is needed. Most spirits cannot be heard. While you are recording you may know that you are actually communicating until you listen to the recording later on.
When we are on location we like to walk around and get a feel for the place. When we find a hot spot we know it is time to do an EVP so we introduce ourselves, state which EVP this is, (for example if it is the first one of the night then say it is EVP number 1. ), and that we are only there to collect information.
It is also important that no one is walking around during this session and if you talk do not whisper and state that it was you if you make a noise during the session. We always state that we are not there to cause any harm we are only reaching out to any spirit that has something to say.
There are two types of audio recorders out there.
– Digital Recorders
Digital recorders come in many sizes, even in our latest cell phones. These are the most accurate and can easily be downloaded to any USB port. Just remember while recording set the recorder down so you do not contaminate the recording with movement. My paranormal group use hand held recorders, cell phones and tablets. Each has been very successful.
– Tape Recorders
Tape recorders are rarely used because of their inability to be downloaded to a computer and there tends to be more background interference then the digital recorders. These recorders are usually hand held. Like the digital ones it is best if you do not hold onto it during an EVP session.
– Digital Cameras
Digital cameras give the best results do to their high quality photographs and how easy it is to transfer to a computer for editing purposes. Our digital camera’s have been instrumental during our investigations. I just upgraded to a DSLR Camera for faster shutter speed which has already proven to be a great asset.
– Camera Modification (IR Full Spectrum)
Camera’s can be modified to see further into the light spectrum than we can see with the naked eye. Infra-red or (IR) is on one end of the spectrum while Ultraviolet or (UV) is on the other. Either of these can cut through the dark where normal camera’s cannot.
Video camera’s are another basic tool for investigating. Just like digital camera’s video camera’s can use HD full spectrum lighting. These are great if you are investigating a really dark location. The IR video camera’s can see further into the dark and also an important tool during an investigation. These should be set up on a tripod shooting paranormal hot spots during the investigation.
Electro Magnetic Field detectors measure fluctuating in electromagnetic fields. These detectors can be set off by any electric outlets or equipment used during the investigation so it is important to get a base reading when you enter a room. They are only used to locate a possible spirit but are not a tool used for proof of the paranormal.
If there is a client the first should be to interview the client and any other people who have had experiences at this location. Try to stay open listen to what they are telling you and do not forget that not all experiences are paranormal but make sure that you reassure the people involved that you will do your best to find answers.
It is also important that you do not tell the client something that you cannot prove, especially before the investigation. These people have invited you into their homes for help so try not to freak them out. The best way to do this is approach them with sincerity and try to put them at ease.
Research, Research And More Research
There are many ways to research an area. Googling a location is a good start but do not depend on everything you read on the internet. Take what you have learned and back it up by going to the local library or any local historian if available. The things you want to look for are deaths at the location or the surrounding area. Keep in mind that not all hauntings are obvious. You may have to dig for more information.
Beyond Normal Research
Do not be discouraged if you cannot find anything. There are many reasons for a place to be haunted. Other things you may want to research are antiques that the client brought into the house. Also go back to everyone you interviewed and try to rule out anyone using an Ouija Board or anyone performing a sceance at this location.
After a tour through the location with your group and setting up your equipment. Placement of the equipment is something you have to experience before you get it right. Every group is different so you will figure it out.
Now you are ready to start. When approaching any location introduce yourself and your group members in a professional manner. State your intention and always be respectful of the dead. This is not a game, especially to them. I personally do not believe that provoking is necessary and at times it could be very dangerous. We average 15 to 20 EVP’s every investigation and we have never had to provoke them. When the investigation is over and you are walking away from the location be sure to thank the spirits but also make it clear that you are not to be followed home.
My friend Renee said to me one night while investigating a cemetery, “Can you believe that we get to do this.” That has always stuck with me and I try to remember it every time we go out because if we lose our integrity then we lose everything we have worked so hard to accomplish. This is not a game and it is not for our own entertainment so this should never be taken lightly. You should always know what you are getting yourself into at all times so be safe out there and god bless.
“Reality is determined not by what scientists or anyone else says or believes, but by what the evidence reveals to us.”
– Alan Hale
Image Source: Brian Smithson