We’ve discussed some dangers of ghost hunting.
Next, let’s talk about protection and preparation.
It’s important to be ready for almost anything that can happen at a haunted site.
No matter how long you’re in this field, and how many sites you investigate, you’ll still encounter surprising things.
Some are startling.
Others are just annoying.
A few can seem scary at first. (Debunking them may help. The fear usually comes from multiple odd things happening at once. Analyze them, step-by-step.)
If you learn to accept the good with the bad, and focus on what’s most rewarding, you’ll be fine.
Always keep your goals and limits in mind.
That’s the framework of why you’re ghost hunting. And that’s why you decided those basics – your goals & limits – when you started this course.
Risks, hazards, and dangers
In previous lessons, I mentioned your personal safety at some haunted sites, and whether they’re used for drinking parties or even criminal activity.
It’s also why I recommend a daytime walk-through of each haunted site, so you’re aware of the physical hazards, like spiders, uneven walkways, evidence of rodents, decaying attic floors you could fall through, and so on.
But no matter how careful or skeptical you are, if you continue ghost hunting, you’re likely to encounter something that scares you.
It might be something mild, like a close call with a falling object (a structural issue or something thrown by a poltergeist).
You may encounter something chilling, like hearing your own name spoken in EVP.
If a warning or threat was part of that, you might decide ghost hunting isn’t for you. Fighting an angry entity that’s already dead…? A lot of people would agree with you that “enough is enough,” and walk away from this field.
Or, it may be something so terrifying, you struggle not to scream. It may be an experience that troubles you for many months or years that follow.
That’s rare. Really rare.
But it, too, is a risk if you pursue ghost hunting.
That’s why protection – and, for some, religious beliefs and practices – need to be considered.
Please take this lesson seriously, even if you think you’ll never need to rely on this kind of information. (And, for your sake, I hope you never do.)
Why you should take this seriously
I’ve already explained that – as ghost hunters – our biggest concerns are physical hazards at haunted sites, and problems with the living (not the dead). That’s easily 99.9% of the headaches we’ll deal with in this field.
Here’s why I think the topic of demons must be emphasized in any course for new ghost hunters:
A single encounter with an actual ghost can be thrilling. It’s exhilarating. It’s mysterious and fascinating and… well, I could go on & on about how much I’ve enjoyed my research.
A single encounter with a malicious entity can change your life, and not for the better. In fact, it can leave a physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual scars that you never recover from.
Though you’re never likely to encounter a demon or sinister malicious entity, I’m not sure you can fully protect yourself. Not 100%.
But you can be somewhat prepared and on your guard. That’s the purpose of this lesson.
It’s not to scare you. It’s not to disproportionately lead you to jump at shadows and think all ghosts are evil.
In fact, I believe most people – after a few ghost hunts – will get a sense of what a “typical” ghost is, if there is such a thing.
In general, you’ll understand the parameters. A ghost is a ghost. It isn’t a faerie. It isn’t Bigfoot. It isn’t an alien from another planet.
But a ghost isn’t demonic, either.
With experience, I think you’ll know if and when an entity is from the very dangerous end of the anomalous spectrum.
Protection and religion
In a frightening situation, it can help to feel protected by Deity, or something representing your spiritual beliefs.
Ghost hunters come from many backgrounds. Their religions may vary, but everyone I work with believes in the importance of goodness – perhaps grace or harm to none – as a foundation for all that we do.
We’re not at haunted sites to summon spirits of any kind. We don’t do rituals. We don’t lure, entice, taunt, bully, or “provoke.”
We’re there to observe “ghostly activity,” whatever that may be.
That’s our primary goal.
And then we do our best to understand what it is.
In most cases, we start by debunking the phenomena, whether it’s a weird noise, a phrase we heard (perhaps in EVP), a door that slammed, or a general “creepy feeling.”
Then, we look for other explanations, including the possibility of ghosts or other entities.
Many ghost hunters – including me – carry at least one symbol of protection.
This could be anything from a spiritual token to… well, even your “lucky socks.”
Generally, ghost hunters carry something small and unobtrusive. If your team members have mixed religious backgrounds, it’s best not to make your differences into an issue.
Don’t create distance and divisions within your team.
Avoid unintended insults and divisions
Early in my research, I saw a team splinter when a Pagan member repeatedly insisted, “New Age… rhymes with sewage,” as if that was funny.
Those who believe in angels – often labeled a New Age concept – were offended. I was among them.
Likewise, I’ve seen team members walk away, offended, when – before entering a haunted site – a Christian offered a blessing on everyone, aloud.
At least one team member was Jewish.
For your personal safety and the well-being of your team, avoid anything that raises divisions or harsh feelings between team members.
That’s not to make less of your personal beliefs; it’s about protection from entities that might use those divisions to make some members more vulnerable.
Really, divisions – cracks in the bonds among team members, and subtle wavers in your own confidence – seem to be an entry point for damage by malicious and demonic entities.
Spirituality based teams
Some ghost hunting teams share a specific spiritual background, belief system, or church membership.
For them, religious discretion isn’t the same issue it can be among other teams.
My advice is exactly what I tell everyone I work with: Stay true to your beliefs and practices. Do nothing – absolutely nothing – that feels uncomfortable or unethical to you.
Before and after investigations, use whatever protection is appropriate to your faith. Do this outside the site you’re investigating. (I’ll explain that next, with some warnings.)
Also, if you feel the need to, ask for protection during the investigation, too.
But no matter what your religion, if you feel threatened by an entity, or if there’s any chance you’re dealing with something demonic, leave the location immediately.
An important religious warning
In this course and elsewhere, I’ve warned people to stay far away from any site where demons may be present. That’s due to the apparent increase in malicious and demonic entities at some haunted locations.
What are demons?
The Oxford dictionary defines a demon as, “An evil spirit or devil, especially one thought to possess a person or act as a tormentor in hell.”
In my opinion, the words “evil” and “tormentor” should be enough to convince investigators to avoid sites – and entities – connected with the word “demon.”
If there is any possibility that the ghost is actually a demon, leave the site immediately.
In some religious contexts, demons are evil outcasts from the kingdom of a benign God. They have chosen a path that includes causing harm to others.
Regardless of your spirituality or definition of “demon,” here’s something to note: If the entity is demonic or malicious, any Christian symbol can make things worse.
If an ordained priest or minister – trained and experienced in the field of exorcisms – brings a Bible, crucifix, holy water, or other Christian symbols to a demonic site, that’s part of his, her, or their calling.
However, any ghost hunter who enters a haunted site waving a cross or Bible – without extensive spiritual training related to demons – is putting himself, herself, or themselves and their teams at risk.
Lessons from recent history
If you think I’m exaggerating, please review past ghost hunting TV shows. You’ll see at least one star who – with the best of intentions – was led down a dark path when he tried to confront entities he was ill-equipped to deal with.
Several other high-profile stars have had lesser problems befall them.
None of them were “bad” people. Many (not all) had deeply religious, Christian roots.
Most recovered from their experiences. Some are still struggling. A few continue to face minor – but truly odd – challenges in their personal and professional lives.
I’ve deliberately left names out of this. Those who’ve been in the field for a while probably know exactly who I’m talking about, and the difficulties they’ve encountered.
Were their problems entirely due to ghost hunting and demonic activity? Possibly. There’s no way to be certain. I’ve just observed some abrupt decisions by friends in this field, and odd things that happened to them.
Maybe it’s all in my imagination, and the speculation of fellow professionals in “green room” settings.
But… is it worth taking a chance, in case we’re right?
What to do and not to do
If you find yourself in a setting where a demon may lurk, do not take out your Bible or other Christian symbol.
In fact, get out of there as fast as you can. And tell your teammates to do the same.
And then contact a local, mainstream priest or minister about what you’ve witnessed.
They’re far better trained and equipped to deal with demonic activity.
And that site may need clearing by someone qualified to deal with demons, before any other investigators find themselves in danger.
Related information at others’ sites:
Atheists and spiritual protection
Sometimes people insist they’re atheists, or don’t believe in spiritual protection.
In normal, day-to-day settings, I’m okay with that. Each of us has his, her, or their own spiritual path. Or perhaps none at all.
I’ll admit to having ministerial training, but part of that study included learning when someone is – or isn’t – ready to explore their faith (or lack of it).
I do my best to keep religion out of my conversations about paranormal research. My focus is a mix of science and historical research.
Those who know me well, and in real life, are familiar with my educational and spiritual background.
Whatever your beliefs – if any – here’s an important fact: Ghost hunters may encounter entities commonly labeled with terms that are centuries old and documented in records related to religion.
If you won’t take religion seriously, at least consider the stories in a historical context.
If you examine the descriptions of malicious and demonic entities, you’ll see a startling consistency to those reports. Often, they’re the same now as they were in 4000 BC.
To me, that suggests those entities are real, whatever labels you choose to use.
Also 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.
You may not want to use the word “demon.” For all we know, some malicious entities may not be demons at all.
Aliens? Lizard people? Faeries? Cryptids in general?
In our research, the labels aren’t necessarily important.
We know that something evil and terrifying lurks at some “haunted” sites.
We also know that some of those entities respond to certain objects related to faith and/or protection.
It’s better to feel silly carrying a token of protection, and never need it, than to be in a nightmarish situation and wish you had something with you for comfort.
Prepare for terror, just in case
In other words, 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 even 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 – can be vital in a truly terrifying situation.
It’s essential to pay attention to 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.
It happened to one of my team members. Worse, I didn’t take her concerns seriously, and had my own terrifying experience at the same site.
Was it demonic, or something else? I don’t know.
One this is certain: It was the scariest moment in my decades of paranormal research. I should have fled the site as soon as the anomalies were clearly not ghostly.
I hope I never experience anything like it again.
And I hope you don’t either.
Please, whether or not you take this lesson seriously, be prepared… just in case.
Next, explore the final lesson in this course: Ghost Hunting Teams and Going Pro.