This page describes the contact between you and someone who has either a problem with a ghost or just a story to tell. The first part is basic contact information and can be used as an in person interview, over the phone, or even over the internet if applicable. It is easy to do over the phone and can save you wasted time and money from doing an on site investigation only to find a different problem at hand. These basic questions can help you and the person with the “ghost” figure out if a visit is necessary or if they should contact someone else (psychologist, building inspector, etc.). Recording the interview over the phone is a good idea, just remember to ask for permission from the person before doing so. The second part should be done in person if a visit is warranted. This second section will help you dissect the who, what, when, where, how, of the events and help you get a feel for the phenomenon that are taking place.
In the first interview you are searching for patterns within the answers.
- You need to know if a visit is necessary or if there is a logical explanation for the events that are occurring.
- What is their purpose or motivation of contacting you? Mere information? they want you to make it stop? or are they just trying to report it? or possibly pulling your leg?
- Is there a necessity to perform an on site investigation because of the frequency or current happening of the events? Enough reliable witnesses? or does the person ask you to help them?
The most important thing you must consider with this or any other interview is the person’s feelings. In most cases people who come forward may have never had anything like this happen to them. They may have merely misinterpreted something in their surroundings to make them feel that something paranormal is happening. It is also possible they have severe emotional problems that may have triggered hallucinogenic reactions. Whatever the outcome may be the person will almost always say they feel Crazy for saying or believing what they are reporting. You must be quick to tell them they are not. This initial reassurance is vital to the entire interview. You can count on this statement happening sometime in the interview. I usually bring it out to break the ice and they laugh and wonder how I knew how they felt. It’s a common reaction, if they feel that way then odds are they are probably not crazy in the bad sense of the word.
(1). Here is a general list of questions that, when carefully reviewed, should be able to point you in the right direction of helping the person out and if a visit is necessary.
- Describe, basically, the events that have taken place.
- Where (specific location of event) and when did the events take place? and the last time it happened?
- Have you (or anyone else involved) considered natural occurrences or ordinary explanations? What gives you the idea this may be paranormal?
- How many people live in the house (area of occurrence)? ages? names? their relationship to each other? occupations? educational background?
- Are there any pets?
- How long have you lived (been in area with the events) there?
- Any previous experiences of this type?
- How did things begin?
- How did you feel about these events?
- Are the events happening frequently? notice any regularity?
- Have the events increased in severity? notice any difference in intensity?
- Who is directly involved with these events?
- Are there any other witnesses outside of the home (place of event)? What was there experience? (Get their personal information and see if they agree to an interview).
- Have you or anyone involved noticed any pattern in the events? (when events occur, objects affected, location, persons present)
- Have you, or anyone else involved, had psychic experiences in the past? have an interest in it?
- Is the person who witnessed events (or in area) under any unusual pressure in their life?
- Has anyone else been contacted about these events? (friends, police, priest, press – remind them the press will only interfere)
- Have you read or gathered any information on the paranormal? What have you learned or felt from what you heard?
- What would you like done to help you?
- Would you permit me, or possibly a group, perform a serious (and free) investigation of the site?
There will almost always be a follow up interview which may determine if their problem has been solved or if they require visitation, unless they have asked you to visit right away.
(2). The next set of questions will help you zone in on the pattern of what is happening. These questions should be answered in person if a visit is thought necessary. Some questions may not pertain to particular cases.
- Have you connected the event with any particular person(s) in the location? others?
- If there is an apparition seen, does it represent anyone identifiable? (does anyone know “who” the apparition represents?)
- Is there any activity occurring at the time of the events? (argument, t.v. on) time of day? Describe everything surrounding the event itself.
- Do the events occur in the same place? How many times? More often in one place than another?
- Are certain people seemingly more affected than others? What reactions do they display when event happens?
- Do all witness have to be present for event to happen? If not, explain incidents of when there were different groups were present (or individuals).
- Have any disturbances occurred when no one was present to witness them? (objects moving)
- Has any one person been close to the starting point of the movement of an object? Is there a chance person pushed or threw object?
- Is there any reason for someone to fake the events?
- Have you thought of normal explanations for the events?
Ghost Hunt Procedures
Here’s a condensed version the most popular procedures for conducting outdoor ghost hunts:
1. Have everyone meet near the location and decide who will work each piece of equipment and divide into teams if necessary. Pick a person or leader that will talk to anyone who comes in contact with the group (i.e. Police, Reporters, etc.)
2. Enter the site and either privately or as a group ask for blessing or protection for the duration of the hunt. You can use this time to put yourself in a positive frame of mind. It does not have to be a religious thing so everyone can do this in some way. I do encourage everyone to take the 10 seconds this takes and do this. What can it hurt? It’s better to be safe than sorry. Many experienced groups believe that there are evil spirits in many areas such as cemeteries and by saying a 10 second prayer or making sure you are in a positive frame of mind you can safely go about your business without worrying about them. An experienced demonologist will tell you that by doing this in the name of God or whatever good deity you worship, you will keep any non human spirits at bay since they have to leave you alone when told so in this manner. The prayers I use are found here.
3. Walk around the area to get a feel for the surroundings and allow the spirits to get a feel for you. Do this for about 20 minutes. Log in your start time and weather conditions and any other relevant information. You can also begin to set up any stationary equipment like camera on tripods or motion detectors. Make note of any areas that may cause you to get false readings or false positive pictures.
4. Now go out there and get some pictures and recordings. Be sure to note anything unusual that happens especially meter and temperature readings, visual sightings and strange sounds. Also make notes of any feelings or emotions you feel that may be odd or out of place. You can compare notes after the hunt and look for similarities in readings and feeling in certain areas or at certain times.
5. Whether you stake out a spot or you walk around try to give everyone the opportunity to try everything and be everywhere. This keeps everyone fresh and at attention. Rotate a few times during the investigation.
6. When you are done have everyone meet in one spot and ask the human spirits here not to follow you home and to remain here. Tell the others they must remain here in the name of God (or other good deities). Again this takes 4 seconds, it’s simple and it can save you some problems down the road. If we are wrong about these prayers at the beginning and end of the hunt and they are not necessary then you wasted 14 seconds of your time. If we are right about them, you saved yourself from allot of problems and grief.
Some additional steps for a house or building ghost hunt/investigation
* Every investigator or team should keep a log of events/times – everything needs to be logged, not matter how trivial. You sneeze, log it in, it may have sounded like something else to another member elsewhere in the building.
* All members and owners if possible, walk through the location. One member maps location noting: air vents, heater, electrical appliances, fuse boxes, computer, etc. Mark down the temperatures in the rooms and any EMF reading you get during this walk through. One member take 5-10 test photos during the walk through. Do not discuss the details of the case during this walk through.
* Any witnesses that have not been interviewed before should be interviewed by 1-2 investigators and taped/videoed if it’s ok with the witness. The other members should walk around the location and record any feelings or observations. Only the interviewers will know the location of events and sightings.
* Make no conclusions. Share no conclusions or opinions with the witnesses or owners until all the reports, photos and tapes are reviewed. You need to see the evidence and correlate it before you can give an educated opinion.
Courtesy of the Shadowlands Ghosts and Hauntings
This is the moment you have been waiting for, well, there are still many more things to consider before you venture off as well as things you need to concentrate on as you are there.
Before venturing out decide if there is enough data to determine that a visit is absolutely necessary (unless you’re going to a graveyard or heading out on a “field trip” type ghost hunting outing). After getting permission to visit go over the details of what you and your group will do (day visit, follow up visit – possibly at night). Make sure you have taken as much information as possible from anyone you have contacted and have studied it well. Find out if anyone besides you or your group has been contacted (priest, police, press) and asks them what their feelings are about the situation. If the press was called (which may show their motivations) be extremely careful! The best advice I can give you on dealing with the press (if you can’t outright avoid them) is to not jump to conclusions about anything. You never want to tell them (or let the owner of the property say) you’re investigating a ghost and you’re a ghost hunter. The best thing you can say is that you are “looking into a matter for (person) who is unable to determine the cause at the moment, with my perspective I hope to help determine that cause. We will be happy to contact you if there is anything worthy of reporting”.
The first visit must be during the day (especially if it is outdoors) or when it’s most convenient to the owner of the property. It’s a good idea to have one person of your group unaware of what exactly is happening at the site. This person will not be fully open to suggestion and can be a reliable source of “feeling” around the site. You can arrange for the witnesses to be there if you have not previously spoken with them. If they are there, make sure if you interview them you do so separately.
- Do not go to the site alone unless you feel it is absolutely necessary. Make sure you have permission (set up time/date obviously).
- Bring all your tools (see tools page).
- After on site interviews measure out the house and create scale drawing of site. Create a master copy that remains untouched and enough copies for each person using tracing paper. This can also be done before an investigation is performed with or without your entire group (two people can measure a house in good time). Mark all reflective surfaces (alphabetically or numerically) and lights in both indoor and outdoor investigations. No detail is too insignificant. When using the layout drawings mark the areas that you have readings or feelings and go over them periodically to look for similar readings (the same reading means physical explanation).
- While investigating the site be on the lookout for normal ways to explain what they are experiencing.
- Look for patterns between the people and the experiences.
- Become part of the setting yourself and attempt to blend into the background (do not be a disturbance to the setting). Keep all equipment in check and close to you so they do not pose disturbance either.
- Take into consideration what the person seeks. If it is to rid their home of this then look for clues to solve it, if it less severe then research for you own needs.
- Try to reconstruct events, duplicate patterns, and recreate conditions of the events when they occurred.
- Induce controls (if applicable) slowly and gradually noting any changes in readings or feelings.
- Keep notes on any recordings or photographs. You can never have enough notes.
- Check and re-check all facts of the case frequently. Don’t be afraid to reach out to people in other fields (or your own for that matter). The price of helping one in need far exceeds that of personal gain.
Be sure to create a written format and time frame for the investigation, of course this will be particular with each case. The outline that you will follow for that case should be shared with the owner of the property. This will give you and the owner confidence of the situation.
Once you have gathered your information, if you haven’t solved the problem already, leave the area and study your information the following day. Let the person know that you will be in contact with them after you have reviewed your findings. Look at everything forward and backward. Write a list of questions you come up with. Formulate a hypothesis on what you think the problem could be. Then, when you are on site again pursue your findings and search for the resolution that the owner seeks. Remember to take as many notes as possible. The notes should be organized daily and kept in a journal format. Information of time, date, weather, investigators, who interviews who, the interviewees, everything should be written down.
Don’t forget that graveyards are not the only area you will find activity. The living (and their connection with the dead) has more to do with ghosts than you might think. Graveyards have confused what we are studying, along with cameras that give us a perception that few have studied in detail. Don’t hide behind the camera. I use the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one was around to hear it, does it make a sound?” Related with the ghost world you could ask, “If you photograph something you think is a ghost, will you find the answer of its existence in the picture, or in the field that you took the photo?” You “think” a tree makes a sound when it falls, but can you be sure if you’re not there? You “think” that it could be a ghost in the picture, but can you prove it if you’re not willing to investigate it properly?