This lesson is about preparing for a thorough investigation. It may be challenging. It’s likely to take you more than a week to complete. Have patience. Mastering this lesson will make a big difference in your success as a ghost hunter.
This becomes easy, even second nature, after a few dozen ghost hunts. But, at the beginning, I recommend consciously checking this.
See my article, Baseline Yourself, for more information, links to free worksheets, and a helpful podcast.
Tools for Beginning Ghost Hunters
It’s not necessary to use any tools during a ghost hunt. In an earlier lesson, I recommended carrying some symbol of spiritual protection, but even that is optional.
Some people like to shield themselves spiritually, before entering the haunted site.
- You may say a prayer.
- You might mentally ask a relative – someone who’s already crossed over – to be with you and protect you.
- You might carry a quartz crystal, a religious medal, or rosary beads.
- You could imagine yourself protected by a pink bubble of loving energy.
- Or, you may prefer to think of yourself shielded by a vivid blue light shining down from the heavens above.
As a beginner, I recommend a simple prayer or comforting ritual – even something like stargazing while sipping cocoa – before beginning a ghost investigation.
At the very least, that kind of routine can clear your mind of lingering thoughts from earlier in the day. You’ll feel fresher and more focused as you start the investigation.
But, if this seems silly, it’s okay to leap into your first ghost hunting experience.
The most important tools are your five or six senses.
During your first two or three ghost hunts, just observe.
Listen for strange noises and odd silences.
Watch for strange lights, shadows or figures. Pay special attention to dark corners and reflective surfaces. (Mirrors, windowpanes, and shiny surfaces can reflect ghostly images.)
All of your senses should be on alert. Some people hear ghosts. Some people see them. Many people report things like an odd chill, or breath on their faces, necks, or arms.
Other people sense changes in movement or energy.
Here’s an example:
At New Hampshire’s Gilson Road Cemetery, we discovered an unusual energy field. At the time, we said it felt like “wading through molasses.”
In later investigations, we felt it again. It was never as strong as that first time, but it’s something we’ve never forgotten.
The first time, it was a little alarming. I worried that, at some point, someone might be paralyzed by the energy field.
Fortunately, we kept wading. The energy field was about 20 or 30 feet across, and denser at the middle. When we escaped it, we felt a little drained, but that’s all.
To this day, I have no idea what it was. Maybe it was residual energy from violent deaths at that location, centuries ago. Or, it was connected with the unmarked graves and misplaced headstones at that cemetery.
During your investigations, notice what’s going on internally. Are you feeling excited, or a little drained of energy, or both? Are your emotions significantly different from earlier in the day? (This is when your baseline checks are important.)
Those observations are at the core of ghost hunting.
Ghost hunting equipment
Ghost hunting tools can be helpful, but they only confirm that something odd is going on.
Popular tools include:
- Cameras and video equipment.
- EMF meters.
- EVP recording devices.
- Specialized flashlights.
- Motion and vibration detectors.
- Real-time communication devices, such as the spirit box, Ovilus, Frank’s Box, and so on.
- Dowsing rods and divination tools. (Ouija boards are not recommended.)
- Yes/no tools such as a loosened flashlight.
- Ghost hunting apps for phones and handheld devices.
But, many investigators rely on ghost hunting tools for other reasons, too.
It’s exciting to confirm your perceptions with hard evidence. It’s thrilling when an EMF spike occurs seconds after you felt a chill.
If a photo shows a strange shadow, it could be the same figure others have seen.
The voice from a spirit box can be startling, especially when a word or phrase fits the haunting.
And, when ghost hunting turns scary, your equipment can serve a second purpose.
Tools can provide a sense of comfort
Putting your attention on something very real and physical can be a relief. It’s a temporary break.
Any investigation can seem overwhelming. You’ll encounter things you can’t explain. They are phenomena and feelings you can’t control. It can seem scary.
That’s when it’s comforting to step back into the “real” world of cameras and audio equipment, ghost apps, and EMF devices.
That sense of control can be essential when an investigation suddenly seems overwhelming. After all, if your ghost hunting tools seem to go haywire, you can turn them off.
Anything that shifts your focus away from your fears… that can be a necessary break.
But, it may also be a problem.
Ghosts can be very different from what you expected. It’s normal to feel vulnerable.
It’s okay to take a brief “time out.” Focus on your ghost hunting equipment. Check your readings for a few minutes.
But also keep the risks in mind.
Ghost hunting tools can be a problem when:
- You rely on them too much.
- They distract you from real risks. Never ignore a “gut feeling” that warns you of danger.
- Tools interfere with research. For example, when your Ovilus or spirit box keeps talking, but someone nearby is recording EVP.
- When ghosts (or other entities) use those tools to frighten you.
Keep that last point in mind. Many people believe that ghosts interact EMF meters, real-time communication tools, etc.
If that’s true, malicious spirits can also use your tools to scare you.
For example, during one investigation in Salem, Massachusetts, several team members experienced waves of terror. At that point, I worried about their emotional well-being.
Next, another team member decided to act-out the victim’s abuse posture. (That’s never a good idea.)
Then, the Ovilus in my hand said my name aloud. That was truly odd. My given name – Fiona – was not in the Ovilus word list.
Something was trying to scare us in very personal ways.
Right away, I turned off the Ovilus. We rushed through our investigation in that part of the site, and moved to another area.
The rest of the site was haunted, but not in frightening ways.
It’s rare for a spirit to use your equipment to frighten you. But, if it happens to you, get out of that area.
Pause. Recover. Then decide the safest course of action. When in doubt, leave the site altogether.
Whatever you decide, be sure to warn other teams about your experience.
Never put yourself (or others) at risk when you’re dealing with something you cannot see.
Ghost hunting tools and equipment – personal choices
When professional ghost hunters gather, we often discuss ghost hunting tools. Opinions vary, wildly.
I believe that some ghost hunters “tune in” to some tools better than others. Few are adept (or skilled) in every research area.
One ghost hunter may take great photos, but get nothing in EVP recordings. Or, dowsing rods may respond, but not a pendulum. (I admire those who can use a pendulum well. They are rare, and usually psychically gifted.)
I’ve seen an Ovilus talk almost non-stop to one person, and then go totally silent in the hands of someone else.
Nobody’s sure why this happens. Avoid personal comparisons.
Every ghost hunter is unique. Spirit contact may vary with different people and types of equipment. It may change with time, but also from one location to another.
With more experience, you may develop different aptitudes… and others may not be among your strengths, after all.
Always remember, ghost hunting isn’t a competition. There is no trophy for Best Ghost Hunter, Ever.
Prepare for your first (or next) ghost hunt
This may be a good time to go on a ghost hunt.
Remember your previous lessons. Find someone – preferably two or more people – to go ghost hunting with.
Important: Even if you’re meeting a group of ghost hunters, take a friend along for safety and moral support.
Review my Ghost Hunting – What’s in Your Backpack? list for supplies you may want to have with you. (Don’t feel as if you need all of them. Carry those that make the most sense for where you’re investigating.)
Research the location ahead of time. See it in the daylight. Study the layout or floor plan.
Choose a place that’s not too isolated. Of course, avoid dangerous areas. (A neighborhood’s character can change after dark. If you’re unfamiliar with the area, ask locals’ opinions.)
Ideally, select a haunted site that’s been recommended by someone you respect, and who’s encountered something “odd” there.
Plan to spend no more than an hour at the site. Half an hour maybe as long as you can tolerate.
During your first ghost hunt
Start with the basics. Just observe.
Remember that most of ghost hunting is waiting. It’s important to be patient.
But, never expect ghosts to put on a performance for you. Most are not entertainers.
(If you’re ghost hunting in an old music hall or theatre, that may be an exception. Those ghosts seem to like direction.)
If one area has no activity, check another.
It may help to focus on one kind of anomaly at a time. That might be a change of temperature, an odd sound, or a strange shadow.
Then, before moving ahead, compare notes with your friends or team members.
Omit nothing, even when it was an odd breeze or something you think you “just imagined.”
As a new ghost hunter, your observation skills are your highest priority. Develop them early, and you’ll be far more effective in later ghost hunts.
Of course, before you leave your first serious ghost hunt, it’s okay to use your camera, a ghost app, or a voice recorder to detect spirits.
That will help you gain confidence with how those tools work.
(Don’t expect immediate results. Initially, you’ll be sorting normal reactions from things that can’t be explained. You’ll also be learning which settings or buttons do what, for each ghost hunting device.)
When the investigation is over, pause to be sure you aren’t leaving anything (or anyone) behind.
Then, leave quietly.
If you forgot something
If you get to your car and realize you left something at the site, don’t return to it, alone. Ask someone else to go with you.
Also, don’t take remove anything that’s not yours. That’s important.
In rare cases, I’ll make one exception: It’s okay to take litter or rubbish from the site, especially if other ghost hunters left it behind. BUT, do this only if there’s a trash container at the entrance to the site.
Do not take whatever-it-is to your car. That includes coins, an interesting stone, flowers, a four-leaf clover, or anything you thought of as a “souvenir.” It may hold negative energy.
(Ghostly hitchhikers may be amusing at Disney’s Haunted Mansion attraction. In real life, you do not want to take ghostly energy home with you.)
If you’ve already made this mistake, return the object to the haunted site immediately. (Of course, don’t go there alone, especially after dark.)
If that’s not practical, do not burn the item. Instead, bury it at least six inches underground. (That depth prevents animals from digging it up.)
Then, mentally break any link or connection between you, the object, and the haunted site.
After your first ghost hunt
Immediately after that brief investigation, pause to record or jot your thoughts about your experience.
The next day, review those notes. Study any last-minute evidence that you found – photos, EVP recordings, and so on. Add your current thoughts to your notes, as well as things you’d do differently next time.
Repeat this a few times, until you feel more sure of yourself.
This may be all you want from ghost hunting. Or, you may decide to take the next step.
You’ll learn more in the next lesson.
Lesson Three – recommended steps
The following steps are suggested but not required. If you follow them, your ghost hunting experiences are likely to be better.
1) For a minimum of three consecutive (and average) mornings, do a baseline check of your mood, energy, physical health, etc. Record your notes, or jot them down for later reference.
2) Identify one or more friends who’d like to go ghost hunting with you.
3) Select a day, time and location for your first ghost hunt.
4) Research the site. Confirm as much as you can about the site’s history and folklore. (If you visit the site ahead of time, be sure you’re not alone, especially if the location is isolated or in a so-so neighborhood.)
5) On the day of the investigation, pause for another personal baseline check. Then, visit the site while you still have some daylight.
6) Stay at (or return to) the site around dusk. (If it’s a return visit, be sure to run another baseline check on your emotions, sensitivity, energy levels, and so on.)
7) With at least one other person, walk around. Observe your external and internal experiences.
8) Leave when you starting to feel stressed or tired, or when the site closes.
9) Record your results as soon as possible.
10) The next day, review your notes and any evidence from the visit. Add your current thoughts and observations.
11) Repeat this until it’s no longer awkward. Once you say to yourself, “Okay, I think I’m beginning to understand ghost hunting,” you can decide whether or not to continue in this field.
If you’re enjoying ghost hunting, your next lesson (the fourth in this four-part series) is Join or Start a Ghost Hunting Team.