Welcome to Introduction to Ghost Hunting, Hallowfields’ free, four-part course in basic ghost hunting.
You’re about to begin an exciting adventure.
Included in this course
Here’s what you’ll learn in the next four lessons:
- How to start ghost hunting. That’s this lesson.
- Where to find ghosts. You’ll find tips in lesson two.
- What to expect and what to do. That’s in lesson three.
- How to join (or start) a ghost hunting team. You’ll find suggestions in the fourth (final) lesson in this course.
If you have any questions during this course – or as a ghost hunter – first search for the topic. Also check the FAQs. If you don’t find your answer there, leave a comment. I’ll do my best to answer all questions.
Each lesson is designed to take about one week, part-time. You may need more or less time, depending upon your schedule, interests, and previous ghost hunting experience.
I’m sure you’re eager to start ghost hunting immediately, but please explore each lesson thoroughly.
Also, no matter how quickly – or methodically – you go through this course, it’s a good idea to review these lessons (a second time, or more) after you’ve been on a few ghost hunts.
I’ve been ghost hunting for decades, but I’m still learning.
This field keeps changing. Researchers find new ways to detect and communicate with ghosts. More haunted places are identified and opened to investigators.
New investigators (like you) enter the field and make important new discoveries.
And, of course, people like me revise and update our books and courses every few years.
That evolution keeps ghost hunting exciting. There’s always more to learn. Every day brings new opportunities to encounter paranormal phenomena.
I hope you enjoy this course, but – even more – I hope ghost hunting is a great adventure for you.
You’re important. You might make the next big breakthrough in ghost research.
The Course Starts Here
Before you go ghost hunting
From the start, think about your ghost hunting goals as well as your limits.
Here’s my video overview of this step as a ghost hunter.
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 video, Fiona talks about the importance of planning ahead, to be sure you have an exciting – or even terrifying – ghost hunting experience.
Ghost hunting can be boring. It can be uncomfortable, and – at times – terrifying. It’s okay to admit that. Your teammates may feel the same way, and it can help to talk about it openly.
Also, consider how much time and money you’re willing to invest in paranormal research.
When people don’t know their ghost hunting goals and their limits, they can lose focus. They continue ghost hunting long after it stops being interesting or fun.
Why ghost hunting…?
Are you looking for proof of ghosts? What kind of proof? In other words, what would you need to encounter (or experience) to feel as if you found your answer?
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”?
No matter what your goals are, ghost hunting isn’t what you see on TV.
Much of ghost hunting is boring. (They edit that out of TV shows and movies.)
You’ll stand around for hours, usually in the dark, waiting for something to happen.
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, as well.
Ghost hunting dangers
During every investigation, do your best to remain alert. Remain aware of your surroundings, and pay close attention to your internal radar.
From the start, never stay at a haunted place after your “gut feeling” tells you to leave.
Most haunted locations are safe.
A few may have real-life risks such as uneven walkways, rotting floorboards, or toxic mold and mildew.
Usually, you’ll know about those dangers ahead of time.
Now and then, you’ll encounter angry, territorial ghosts. They may startle you, but most aren’t dangerous.
Demons and malicious spirits are rare, but they’re also a genuine risk. They can injure you physically, mentally, and spiritually.
If your internal radar – or “gut feeling” – gives you a deep sense of anxiety, pay attention to it. It is better to leave an investigation site and feel silly about it, than to put yourself at risk.
Test-drive ghost hunting
If you’re ghost hunting out of curiosity, that’s okay. See what it’s like.
No matter what your initial reasons or goals were, it’s okay to stop after two or three ghost hunts. That may be all you need to decide if ghost hunting is really for you.
Sometimes, I meet people on ghost hunts who… Well, I’m not sure why they’re there. Often, they aren’t too sure either.
If the site is truly haunted, that lack of focus can be a problem. If you’re not paying attention, mischievous spirits can push you, isolate you from your friends, or terrorize you on a deeply personal level.
So, know why you’re ghost hunting. Decide what it might look like to achieve your ghost hunting goals.
Know your limits
Also, be sure to define your limits. Know how bored or afraid you’re willing to be.
Ahead of time, decide how much time and money you’ll spend on ghost hunting.
Use my Ghost Hunting Goals & Limits Worksheet to decide why you’re ghost hunting, and what your limits are.
(For the best results, read my Ghost Hunting Goals & Limits – Worksheet Instructions, too.)
Tools you’ll need
This is important: You don’t need any ghost hunting equipment.
Yes, many ghost hunters use a flash camera, a digital thermometer, a voice recorder, or an EMF meter. You may already own those tools – perhaps as apps on your phone.
Most new ghost hunters – and many experienced ghost hunters – use no tools at all.
You’re more likely to notice the subtle, creepy things when cameras, noisy meters, etc., don’t distract you.
So, don’t rush out and buy anything to start ghost hunting.
Try a few investigations without any tools. Or, just use a camera.
Discover your ghost hunting talents
Every ghost hunter is unique. Start with an open mind. You may have talents you didn’t expect.
- Some ghost hunters notice flickering lights and shadows. Others rarely see them.
- Many researchers sense changes in temperature – especially cold spots. Others are more sensitive to hot spots, which can be far more dangerous.
- Some investigators are receptive to sounds while others aren’t.
- Some consistently photograph anomalies, and others don’t.
- And so on.
Get a sense of how ghosts contact you, before you invest in any tools.
Test-drive ghost hunting equipment
Before spending a cent, borrow ghost hunting equipment from other researchers. See what works well for you.
For example, do you pick up EVP (recorded ghostly voices)? If not, don’t waste your money on an expensive digital voice recorder and software.
For more about this topic, see my Hollow Hill article, Basic Tools Every Ghost Hunter Must Have.
Also, back in 2009, I recorded a 16-minute podcast about this topic. Most of that advice is still valid.
You can encounter real ghosts without expensive ghost hunting equipment. In this 16-minute podcast, professional ghost hunter Fiona Broome explains how to use your five (or six) senses to find real ghosts and haunted places.She talks about the kinds of evidence you might see, and what to listen for. Fiona
In a later lesson, I’ll talk about sophisticated ghost hunting tools – and backups.
In a frightening situation, it can help to feel protected by Deity, or something representing your spiritual beliefs.
This could be garlic, a small Bible, a pentacle, blessed salt, or even your “lucky socks.”
Generally, ghost hunters carry something small and unobtrusive.
Recommended reading from my Hollow Hill website: Spiritual Protection for Ghost Hunters.
Sometimes people tell me they’re atheists, or don’t believe in spiritual protection.
Keep this in mind: In frightening situations – and in a matter of minutes – people can change from calm, logical thinkers to emotional wrecks.
Even experienced ghost hunters can be surprised, startled, or experience bone-chilling fear.
The issue may not be ghosts. Other entities can be attracted to haunted sites, especially if they think vulnerable people will investigate there.
Prepare for terror, just in case
If anything might be a source of comfort for you, bring it with you.
This could be a swatch from your childhood “cuddle blanket.” It might be a religious medal. It might be a quartz crystal. Or, you might choose an MP3 of traditional hymns or Broadway tunes.
It’s not so much what you carry, as your belief that it works. Inner confidence – in a Higher Power or in yourself – is your best protection in a truly terrifying situation.
Of course, it’s better is to detect danger with your internal radar or “gut feeling.” Almost every experienced ghost hunter can tell you about an investigator who stayed too long at a dangerously haunted site.
The investigator who died
Here’s my story: I don’t like to talk about this, but it happened to someone on my team. She was bright, funny, a mom, and a skeptic. Also, she was fit & healthy, and led an active life.
After a routine investigation, she decided to visit another haunted location on her way home. I’m still not sure why.
But, something there terrified her.
(She wasn’t easily startled. In fact, even during our most unsettling investigations, she was usually the last to leave. So, when she told me how troubled she was after her independent, late-night exploration, I was alarmed.)
A few days later, her sudden death was a shock to everyone who knew her.
We still don’t know if it was connected to something paranormal at the second site. We know that she literally ran from whatever-it-was… perhaps too late to escape its effects.
Don’t take chances.
Normal, expected risks
Some haunted sites present physical risks. Abandoned or neglected buildings can have rotted floors, uneven stairs, dangerous mold and mildew, or even a rodent population.
In dark, poorly maintained cemeteries, you may stumble onto unmarked graves (depressions the size and shape of buried coffins), exposed tree roots, and holes dug by rodents and snakes.
In wooded areas frequented by hunters (whether or not it’s hunting season), wear something reflective or brightly colored.
(Neon-colored vests are inexpensive. You can buy them at stores such as Target, sporting goods stores, and online retailers like Amazon.)
Never rely on your mobile phone for safety. In many haunted places, EMF levels can be high. Electrical devices – including phones, cameras, and other devices – can fail. Usually, the problem is the battery. Even freshly charged devices can go flat as soon as you enter haunted location.
Some say ghosts drain battery energy for their own use. I’m not ready to believe that. But, I’ve seen all electrics lose power – almost instantly – upon arriving at investigation sites.
Here’s a short video about what to do if you’re using a phone (or other electronics) for ghost hunting, and the batteries go flat.
Ghost hunting equipment can fail in haunted settings. Here’s one way to continue your investigation anyway – Try “old school” ghost hunting methods. In this video, Fiona Broome shares a few easy ways to make the most of a ghost investigation, even when everything seems to go wrong.
Of course, you could just leave the site if you’re uneasy about how (and why) ghosts might be tampering with your camera, phone, or other gadgets.
Mostly, never assume that it’s okay to go alone to a deserted, haunted place. If you need to call for help, your phone may not work.
(The good news is: electronic equipment often starts working again – as if nothing had happened – when you leave the haunted site. I’ve seen flat batteries seem to recharge themselves, about 1/4 mile from our investigation.)
Two simple precautions
Speaking of danger, here are two of the best ways to remain safe.
One is: Never trespass. That should be obvious.
The other is: Never go ghost hunting alone.
Many haunted places are isolated. Safety is a concern. If you encounter someone brightening – living or dead – you should not be alone.
Ghost tours and ghost hunting events are a fine way to start.
You could try ghost hunting with a few interested friends.
Or, look for local, informal ghost hunting groups. Contact them, and sign up for one of their more casual investigations. Learn more about their members, as well as the kinds of investigations they prefer.
Friends are best when you’re bored… or scared
Sometimes, who you’re with can be more important than where the group investigates. For example, many people enjoy ghost hunting with others who share their interests.
- Skeptics may have more fun with other skeptics.
- If you’re a believer, you may prefer to investigate with other believers.
Either way, on your first few ghost hunts, keep an open mind. Ghost hunting may surprise you, or it might be a big letdown.
Choose companions who are interested in the paranormal but – like you – are willing to consider the evidence objectively.
When to go ghost hunting
Many paranormal sites are haunted, night and day.
However, most ghost hunters see the best results at dusk and after dark.
Are you going ghost hunting with an established, organized research group? Follow their schedule.
But, if you’re exploring a haunted place with a friend or two, arrived shortly before dusk. Then, you can see what’s there while you still have daylight. As light fades, thing may become eerie.
In full darkness, the intensity may increase. Leave as soon as the paranormal energy exceeds your comfort level. You don’t need to explain yourself. You don’t need to make up an excuse. Just leave.
I usually leave a haunted site while I’m still having fun, but nothing new or interesting has happened for at least half an hour. (That varies with how much has already happened, and whether I have good reason to expect more phenomena, later.)
Also, I’m mindful of my own energy levels. As soon as I begin to get tired, I tell my team members I’m going home.
Be sure to leave while you’re still fresh enough to drive home. Remain alert. Late at night, other drivers may not be at their best.
If you’re exhausted or feel too anxious to drive safely, get a lift with someone else, and return for your car the next day.
1) Decide why you’re ghost hunting. Determine your goals.
2) Be realistic about ghosts and haunted places. Ghost hunting isn’t like it looks on TV. You’ll experience boredom and – possibly – terror, as well. Decide how bored or frightened you’re willing to be. It can help to keep a diary, as an overview of how much fun ghost hunting is (and isn’t).
3) Set specific time and money limits, too.
4) Start with a plan of action. You may want to learn more about ghosts from books. Or, you might list several haunted places – local and distant – you’d like to investigate.
5) If your interests are scientific, start learning about ghost hunting equipment. Compare prices. Read reviews. Ask professionals for their recommendations, too, but don’t buy anything yet.
6) Think about exploring haunted places with others. Talk with friends and look for local ghost tours, ghost hunting events, and investigation teams.
After this, you’re ready for the second lesson in this series, Find a Haunted Place.