Ghost Hunting Basics

Ghost Hunting Basics for beginnersThis is the first lesson in the free Ghost Hunting for Beginners course. (Former title: Introduction to Ghost Hunting.)

I will show you, step by step, how to become a confident, successful ghost hunter.

Along the way, you’ll also learn some best practices that can make ghost hunting fun, fascinating, and safe.

Well… as safe as one can be, dealing with unknown spirits and eerie phenomena.

So, let’s get started.

Ghost hunters and paranormal investigators

It’s important to know terms used in this kind of research.

Ghosts – the word – usually means “spirits of the dead.” We use that term – whether we’re believers or skeptics – to refer to unexplained or weird phenomena at a site that seems haunted.

Using that word loosely keeps researchers on the same page. We’re not insisting that ghosts are real. We’re investigating odd things – often called “anomalies” – that suggest something unexplained is going on.

Our job is to find an explanation for those odd experiences, if we can.

Are ghosts real? Do spirits of the deceased visit or even linger in our world? That’s up to the individual researcher to decide.

As investigators, we use the word “ghost” as a reference to possible spirits of people who lived and died in this world, in the past.

  • The term “ghosts” does not include demons.
  • Likewise, ghosts aren’t non-human spirits that someone summoned or conjured.
  • Ghosts aren’t aliens.
  • Ghosts aren’t doppelgangers (an apparent duplicate of a living person).
  • Ghosts may or may not include poltergeists or shadow people.

Those other, non-ghost entities may exist, but – with the possible exception of poltergeists and shadow people – they aren’t part of ghost hunting. (They are part of paranormal research.)

Ghost hunters don’t actually “hunt” spirits. We hunt for evidence of ghosts, and things that can make a site seem haunted.

  • We find out why people think ghosts may linger at the location.
  • We look for our own evidence.
  • We debunk as much as we can.
  • Based on verified facts – and evidence we can’t debunk – we decide if ghosts are a possible or even likely, at that site.

Paranormal means outside (para) normal. It doesn’t necessarily mean ghosts, UFOs, cryptids like Bigfoot, faeries, and so on. It could be anything unexpected for the location.

Paranormal investigators are just looking for explanations of weird, strange, and abnormal phenomena.

A paranormal investigator follows steps similar to what a ghost hunter does.

  1. Find a report of something unusual or abnormal.
  2. Research that report to see if it’s credible.
  3. Investigate the story in real life, to debunk or confirm some or all of it.
  4. Either reach a conclusion about the report, or continue researching it (and similar reports) until an answer seems clear.

So, a skeptic can be a paranormal investigator. Even someone who’s adamantly opposed to the concept of ghosts or UFOs can be a paranormal investigator.

A ghost hunter is probably a paranormal investigator. A UFO seeker is probably a paranormal investigator. A demonologist might be a paranormal investigator.

Many police become paranormal investigators, at least on a case-by-case basis. They’re called because something odd (not normal) is going on, and they investigate it.

But a paranormal investigator might not be a ghost hunter.

It’s important to know the difference, and correct those who use incorrect terms for our research.

This isn’t a game. We’re not in ghost hunting for “a good scare.” And we do our best to remain objective about the evidence we find at each “haunted” site.

We’re looking for answers. We want to understand what’s going on at the investigation site. Those insights may provide answers to bigger questions about other “haunted” places… and what’s behind the activity there.

Your first step starts now

You’re eager to get out and visit a haunted site.

We’ll get to that in the next lesson.

Before your first ghost hunt, decide a few things. These will be an important foundation to your future success.

You can change your mind later, but – meanwhile – it’s a good idea to put your thoughts on paper (real or digital).

At the very least, those notes can be important reminders when you get deeper into paranormal research.

Goals and limits

Before you set foot in a haunted site, consider your ghost hunting goals and your limits.

  • Why are you interested in ghost hunting?
  • What do you hope to accomplish? (It may be more than one thing.)
  • What might cause you to decide not to continue ghost hunting?
  • How much time and money are you willing to spend, while you’re learning to investigate ghosts?

Your answers to those questions can be more important than you realize.

For example, you may want to revisit those notes after you’ve been on a few frightening (or boring) investigations.

Or, let’s say you get swept up in the initial thrill of ghost hunting. Everything you learn about paranormal research seems exciting, challenging, and fun.

You may need to remind yourself how much your involvement affects your relationships or even your budget.

So, the decisions you make now can be the make-or-break for you as a ghost hunter.

Start with this video.

Ghost Hunting – Goals and Limits

Ghost hunting can be an exciting, fascinating experience. To get the most from ghost hunting, it’s important to establish your goals and limits. In this vide…


When people don’t identify their ghost hunting goals and their limits, they can lose focus. They may continue ghost hunting long after it stops being interesting or fun. Or, hoping that “one more (expensive) tool” will make a difference, they spend more than they should.

So, ask yourself these questions. Consider your answers and what’s behind them.

Why ghost hunting…?

Are you looking for proof of ghosts? What kind of proof?

What would you need to encounter (or experience) to feel as if you found your answer?

Would you need to see something you’re certain has no explanation, except that it’s a ghost?

While you’re investigating, do you want to see baffling reactions on an EMF meter, or hear a clear voice in an EVP recording?

Or, do you just want a combination of little things that give you chills so you’re sure you encountered something unearthly?

Decide this ahead of time.

Is your interest more scientific or spiritual?

If you’re looking for scientific evidence, you’ll probably focus on measurable phenomena like cold spots and EMF (electromagnetic fields) surges.

If you’re deeply spiritual, are you looking for a personal connection with “the other side”? Is that to develop your psychic awareness, or to help spirits “cross over”?

Does ghost hunting seem like fun? If so, does it have to be fun, and what kind of fun? Interesting, or just “a good scare”?

basement lightNo matter what your goals are, ghost hunting isn’t what you see on TV.

To be honest, many ghost hunts are boring.

You’ll stand around for hours, usually in the dark, waiting for something to happen. (They edit that out of TV shows and movies.)

Often, nothing happens. That’s when paranormal research can seem like one of the least fun hobbies, ever.

Boredom isn’t just an annoying part of ghost hunting.

Boredom can be dangerous. (We’ll talk about that in a later lesson.)

Decide what your goals are, and what your limits are. If you start with those in mind, you’ll enjoy ghost hunting far more.

In later issues, we’ll talk about related issues. For now, all you need is a general idea of why you’re interested in ghost hunting.

Need some suggestions? You may like my free Ghost Hunting Goals & Limits Worksheet and tips from my Ghost Hunting Goals & Limits – Worksheet Instructions.

Next: Your First Ghost Hunt

Make Your Own Dowsing Rods

Dowsing Rods Course – Part 1

This is the first lesson in Hallowfields’ Dowsing Rods for Ghost Hunters course.

In this course, you’ll learn about making and using free (or inexpensive) dowsing rods for ghost hunting.

Here’s how to begin with homemade dowsing rods.

Start with two wire coat hangers. They should be thin wire, the inexpensive kind that dry cleaners and laundries use.

Trim each so you’re using a little more than half of the coat hanger. (You’ll discard the part with the hook.)

Here’s the one-minute video.

How to Make Dowsing Rods for Ghost Hunting

Easy directions for making ghost hunting dowsing rods. In this one-minute video, you’ll see how to make free or inexpensive dowsing rods that really work. Yo…

Dowsing Rod Directions

Make Dowsing Rods1.) Use two thin wire coat hangers. (Some people use just one dowsing rod for their investigations. I’ve tried that, and prefer to use two. I think they provide more accuracy and clearer results.)

2.) Cut them so – at the bend – you have one short side (at least 5″ long) and then the long side (the lower part of the coat hanger).

3.) Bend each dowsing rod so each is at a right angle, about a 90-degree angle, not the sharper angle you started with.

4.) Use your pliers to curl each dowsing rod’s longer side, so the pointed/cut end isn’t a hazard. (During “lights out” investigations, it can be far too easy to unintentionally jab or injure a fellow team member.)

The next step is optional. If you want to be sure you’re not influencing your dowsing rods, you have two choices:

  • Use a hard plastic straw – not the flimsy kind that come with fast food. Grocery stores usually sell them in the soft drink aisle. Cut it into two sections, each about 4″ (9 – 10 cm) long.
  • Or, get a metal tube (brass or copper can be ideal) that has an opening wider than the coat hanger wire. The tube should be narrow enough to support the dowsing rods, but let them swing freely, as well. (A DIY store may cut the tube for you. 4″ is a good length, or longer if your hands are large. You may also ask them to burnish the cut edges, so you don’t risk cuts.)

Whatever material you use, be sure it’s firm and won’t yield to pressure from your hand. That way, you won’t inadvertently influence the dowsing rods with your hands.

5.) Whether or not you’re using those added handles, the final step is to curl the lower (handle) end of each dowsing rod, for safety.

Note: If you’re using the optional handle protections, be sure each curled handle end is at least 1/2″ below the end of the straw or tube. Otherwise, contact between them could prevent the dowsing rods from swinging freely.

That’s it. You’ve made your first set of dowsing rods.

Related articles

Homemade Dowsing Rods – a brief overview of how to make dowsing rods and how to use them. (At