Many of us are fascinated by the paranormal in some way. For many people, a few horror films and midnight walks are enough. Than there are those of you reading this that want to take this passion further. Like me, you feel that the Hollywood stories don’t do justice to the real hauntings and spirits around us. The feeling of a presence in a room is great, but it isn’t enough. Ghost hunting allows us to take our interests further and develop a rewarding hobby. We get to seek out evidence of paranormal activity and see ghosts up close. We get to separate the fact from the science fiction.
In this guide, I want to take you through some of the most important considerations for anyone looking to start their hobby in ghost hunting. Preparation, research and a level head are all essential here. They will help you to appreciate the situation for what it is, and then record evidence effectively. Developing a hobby in ghost hunting requires the following:
- Dedicated education and training on the subject.
- Finding all the right equipment in order to collect evidence.
- Remembering to expect the unexpected and roll with the developing situation.
- An understanding of how to stay safe when working as a team.
- Strong respect for everyone involved in the situation.
- The ability to maintain the right attitude at all times.
Educate yourself on different aspects of ghost hunting
This really is the most important step to take when learning how to be a ghost hunter. There is the temptation to head straight out to the nearest haunted building and have a look around. This is great if you want to be sure that ghost hunting is for you However, you will soon find that you are in over your head. Education and theoretical training is a great basis for a successful hobby. I have mentioned this to people in the past. Some are keen to borrow books and find websites where they can learn more. Others roll their eyes and say they want to go out searching for ghosts, not stay in studying books. If you are in the latter camp, this might not be the hobby for you. You need that interest in the subject and a desire to learn. Educate yourself on the following:
- Important signs and paranormal phenomenons.
- Local landmarks and legends of interest.
- How to work with homeowners and help clients.
Important paranormal signs
First and foremost, you need to have a strong understanding of what to look out for. A ghostly presence in the room isn’t always as clear cut as a projection or a voice calling out The more you know about the different signs, the easier it is to identify them. This also means learning how to record and analyze signs — such as video recordings, interference on tapes or other signals.
At the same time, it helps to learn more about scientific explanations for paranormal phenomenons. This means learning about the ways that the mind can play tricks on us, or how technological and electrical interference mimic ghostly encounters. There are plenty of books and blogs on the subject. But, some keen amateurs may appreciate the chance to take a course. These courses aren’t cheap, but can be a great investment if they offer a comprehensive seminar plan. This is also a way to meet other people with the same interests.
Learn about the local area and its legends
Once you have a better idea of the signs and basics of ghost hunting, you can than start to learn more about your local area. Every town, big or small, has plenty of tales about its more infamous ghosts. It is easy to laugh some of the stories off because they become so outlandish with time. Locals embellish the myth and personal encounters to make them sound more impressive. Still, there is no smoke without fire, and no myth without some underlying event. Research these haunted sites and the ghosts within. They could prove to be a good way to test out all this new knowledge.
Working with clients in their homes
This will depend on your intentions with your ghost hunting hobby. I encourage all newcomers to look into the possibilities of turning their interest into something more substantial. Those that just want to have a little fun can stick to searching for ghostly signs with their friends. Those that get really into the process and fine tune their skills can help others with their paranormal issues. This is where things get a little more professional. So, it helps to learn more about the different implications of this business venture. it helps to learn more about the different implications of this business venture.
Equip yourself with all the right ghost hunting equipment
There is no point spending hours pouring over books about the best ghost hunting tech if you aren’t going to use it I have gradually built up my arsenal of gadgets and recording equipment so that I can be sure of capturing even the smallest noise or flicker. Visual and audio recording are essential when providing evidence. You can’t tell a homeowner that their property is haunted based on a gut feeling, or on something you alone saw in the basement. I will set up the cameras and audio recording equipment to either validate my initial thoughts, or debunk them. I can than compile it all together to present to the homeowner. I strongly suggest that you start out with the following:
- the right camera
- the right audio recording equipment
- EMF meters
- a good 2-way communication system.
A good video camera
A good ghost hunting camera doesn’t mean one that is overly expensive or has far too many functions to deal with. The video camera must have a decent resolution in order to pick up small details on the film. It also needs a reliable night vision mode, either with infrared or thermal technology. Thermal imaging picks up important heat signatures in the darkest rooms, or while outside. Then there is the battery and storage. Both need a big enough capacity to ensure that you can create enough footage over the course of the night. Trust me, there is nothing worse than finally see the sign you were after, only to find that the camera died 10 minutes ago. You should also invest in a good tripod if you stay within a specific room. This eliminates shakes and interference for a clear picture. Shaky cam effects might scare people at the cinema, but they won’t help real ghost hunters. A good addition would be a thermal camera.
The right audio recording equipment
Video cameras with thermal imaging are essential for capturing the best images, but what about all the sounds? Audio recording equipment will pick up different noises within the room, proving that your mind wasn’t playing tricks on you after all This could be anything from a knock on the wall to a perceived voice. When you go back over the audio recordings you can analyze them to see if it was an unexplained presence or just the cat.
This really is a must have for anyone just starting out in this hobby. Ghosts manipulate the electromagnetic field within a room as they interact with their surroundings. There are some people that are better able to sense this than others. Either way, a dedicated EMF reader provides the clearest indication of any fluctuations. The great thing about these readers is that there are some great devices out there at a low cost.
2-way communication system
This doesn’t mean some sort of walkie-talkie system where you can have a conversation with the entity in the room. That might be possible way off in the future, but not right now. I simply mean a basic 2-way communication system for those involved in the ghost hunt. Teams may split into two to cover different rooms, so it helps to have an on-going dialogue about the situation. Also, homeowners might not want to follow you down into the basement. This way you can ask them important questions more remotely.
Expect the unexpected
You can prepare yourself all you want for the possibilities that lie ahead. You can read every book on local ghost stories and commit the signs to memory. But, I can assure you that the ghosts you hunt probably haven’t read the same script as you. They aren’t going to play by the book to meet your expectations. Every situation is different. Every spirit you encounter is an individual entity, not a stereotype. Many will create a range of paranormal signs that you have read about. They will just do so in their own ways. Manifestations and events can depend on the spirit in question, the location and the objects around you. Therefore you can’t go into a ghost hunting trip with too many preconceptions. I advise you to:
- Embrace the weird turns into the unknown
- Embrace the logical explanations
- Embrace the fear
Embracing weird turns towards the unknown
You don’t know what you will encounter at a location until you get there. You may turn up with a little skepticism about a claim, but than find an extraordinary paranormal signature. You may set out on the hunt for one local legend, but then find someone entirely different. This is when you have to make a decision. Do you back out because this wasn’t what you prepped for? Or, do you run with this new situation and see where it takes you This shouldn’t be a problem if you have the right knowledge and equipment within your team.
Some locations I recommend to check out:
Embrace the logical explanations
One of the reasons that Mulder and Scully were such a force to be reckoned with was the balance between them. While Mulder was so open to the possibilities of the paranormal and unexplained, Scully always stayed rational with logic and science. There is a place for both when dealing with spirits and the paranormal. You can’t jump to too many conclusions about the evidence and overlook the logical, scientific reasoning. Rule out the probable causes to make room for the improbable ones. This is essential if you are dealing with clients hiring you to check out their homes. They want the truth more than anything. Don’t exaggerate ideas of ghosts if the evidence suggests that the noises are simply the result of the plumbing.
Embracing the fear
I have met a few amateur paranormal investigators in my time that insist that fear never comes into their work. They are far too brave and experienced to ever be scared of anything that happens. I would argue that they aren’t embracing the full experience. Don’t resist fear. Fear comes when something strange and unexpected happens, when the ghosts manifest themselves in ways you only dreamed of Fear can lead to validation. Fear gets the blood pumping and makes us feel more alive during these encounters.
Stay safe at all times
The fear and excitement of a potential sighting or piece of new evidence can cause a great adrenaline rush. However, I speak from experience when I say that this adrenaline rush can lead ghost hunters to make some rash decisions. The temptation is to go a little further into the woods, or to come back another night on your own. There is no need to put yourself at risk for your hobby. Your safety must come before anything else. Therefore, I advise the following:
- Staying in a group of people
- Teaming up with those more experienced
- Stocking up on the first safety and first aid equipment
Stay within a group
There is always safety in numbers. This is especially true when hunting for ghosts in an unknown area. If you want to investigate a local legend in the graveyard or local woods, take some willing helpers with you. They can act as back up in case you lose your way or get hurt. There is also the fact that they can help to hold flashlights or other equipment when you need another pair of hands. A strong, like-minded team is more likely to come back in one piece with the evidence you were after.
Team up with more experienced ghost hunters for a while
I recommend tagging along with other paranormal enthusiasts for a little while before heading out with your own team. Think of it like a little practical test as part of your training. You know all the theory, have studied all the legends and have a basic understanding of the equipment. Working with these more experienced hunters allows you to put it all into practice. But, you have the safety net of their expertise in unfamiliar situations. With time, you can take what you learn and head out with your own group. Local forums are a great way to connect with others that are interested in particular sites and stories.
In order to strengthen your relations with a fellow ghost hunter, surprise them with a paranormal gift.
Stock up on the right safety equipment
I mentioned the importance of communication equipment above. This is important for tracking spirits and communicating between different sub-teams. But, it is also essential for safety. If a team member takes a wrong turn, or turns their ankle in the dark, they can radio for help. Always make sure someone has a cell phone in case of bigger emergencies. Other important safety equipment for hunting ghosts includes a strong flashlight and a first aid kit. I recommend a good LED flashlight. They last longer and aren’t as blinding when a team member accidentally shines it in your eyes. A first aid kit should include the basics of bandages, band-aids and antiseptic lotions for cuts and grazes. Finally, make sure that those with medical needs have their aids and medication on hand. For example, those at risk of a panic-induced asthma attack need access to their inhaler.
Show respect to everyone involved in your ghost hunting adventure
Respect is paramount for this industry. I cannot express this strongly enough. When I talk about respect, I mean more than just a general respect for the dead. There are lots of considerations here such as:
- Respecting the spirits
- Respecting the property and property owners
- Respecting the wishes of all those in the group
Respecting the spirits
I can guarantee that you will come across people that still think ghost hunting is all about tormented souls and Ouija boards. If there are spirits within the property, they aren’t going to be those evil demons out of some horror movie. These are the ghosts of real people that are yet to fully move on They are grandparents or perhaps even children taken too soon. Some novice hunters may think that they are there to control the spirit or help them move on. The latter takes a lot of training, so don’t even try right now. Work with the spirit and communicate on their terms. If they aren’t keen to show themselves, don’t force it.
Respecting the property and its owners
You also need to remember where you are. I have come across wannabee Ghostbusters that run through an abandoned building as though it were a movie set. It isn’t. The property you visit is likely to be someones home, or perhaps an old hospital or prison if you get the chance. Wherever you go, act like a respectful guest. The property owners won’t appreciate it if you start causing too much noise or damage. On that note, I also have to stress the importance of discretion. Not all homeowners want to advertise the fact that they have paranormal investigators visiting. So, don’t roll up in some weird uniform or your version of the Mystery Machine. Act normal, be polite and listen to their concerns and needs. Always ask permission to enter rooms, use equipment or communicate with the ghosts.
Respecting the wishes of others in the group
As I mentioned before, it is much safer and more advantageous to head out on a ghost hunt as a group. But, even if you are the “leader among them, you need to respect their wishes. If any group member has second thoughts about the situation, listen to them and discuss it Some of your teammates might feel that a spirit is unhappy and it is time to walk away. They might get scared by an alarming phenomenon and ask to leave. If they want to leave, leave as a group. This is meant to be a fun hobby after all.
Maintaining the right attitude
Finally, it is important to maintain the right attitude when starting out as a ghost hunter. The respect mentioned above is an important part of that. You need to appreciate the situation and the feelings of everyone involved. A successful ghost hunting team needs the dedication, respect and perseverance to achieve their goals. It can take a few long, cold nights to get the footage you were after. You then need the commitment to the project to go through all the files with a fine-toothed comb and compile a report. This attitude will help you stay objective about the situation, whatever the assignment. A dedication to the paranormal gives us the incentive to find the truth in every case — even if that means admitting that there is a scientific reason for the phenomenon.
At the same time, you can’t take this too seriously. There is a balancing act between a professional, objective approach and the thrill of the chase. Don’t forget why you spent all that time learning about the subject. Above all else, this is meant to be a fun hobby. A night spent watching out for ghosts should always make the heart race. There should be a genuine sense of accomplishment when you get the evidence you were after. As soon as this feel like another job, or the process becomes a chore, it is time to take a step back.
I hope that you are still keen to pursue this hobby after reading my guide. There is a lot to consider here. A lot of research, learning and preparation goes into a successful ghost hunt. But, it is all great fun for those of us keen to embrace the paranormal.