Before we begin, we should run through how to distinguish ghost hunting from paranormal investigating.
Many assume the terms “paranormal investigator” and “ghost hunter” can be used interchangeably; but, while there are similarities between the two, there are also significant differences.
Ghost hunters are primarily focused on investigating the existence of ghosts and spirits. As the term “hunter” implies, their goal is to gather tangible evidence and discover the mysteries of paranormal activity. They rely on tools such as audio recorders and cameras for documentation.
Paranormal investigations cover a broader range of paranormal phenomena, from ghosts and psychic phenomena to out-of-body experiences – and even Bigfoot or aliens. Paranormal investigators use similar tools and methods as ghost hunters, but the term carries an expectation of a more scientific approach.
Different Types of Ghosts You May Encounter
If you’re new to the world of paranormal phenomena, it’s essential to understand their inner workings before you dive in – and we’re not talking about watching Ghostbusters!
Before heading out into the field, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of what you might encounter:
- The Interactive Personality: This type of ghost is often a deceased loved one or historical figure. They retain their personalities from when they were alive and can be visible, speak, touch, or emit distinct odours.
- The Poltergeist: Commonly referred to as a “noisy ghost,” a poltergeist has the ability to move objects, create loud sounds, and manipulate the physical environment. While poltergeist activity is rare, it can be intense and even dangerous.
- Ectoplasm/Ecto-Mist: This refers to a swirling mist or fog often seen several metres above the ground. It appears as a swirling mass in white, grey, or black and can either move swiftly or remain stationary. These are commonly witnessed in graveyards, battlefields, and historical sites.
- Orbs: These are transparent balls of light (typically white) often captured in photographs. Orbs are believed to be the souls of deceased humans or animals travelling from one place to another.
- Funnel Ghosts: Commonly observed in homes or old historical buildings, funnel ghosts are associated with visits from loved ones. These ghosts manifest as swirling funnels of light and can cause cold spots.
Things to Know Before You Go on a Ghost Hunt
In the realm of spooky happenings, there are two kinds of people: those who retreat under their bedcovers at the faintest hint of a creepy noise and those who can’t wait to investigate.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably the latter type, but don’t get ahead of yourself! There are some tips you should know before you head on a ghost hunt.
You’ll need to be prepared, including having paranormal investigation equipment that is fully charged. More on the paranormal investigation equipment you need later.
Investigators believe that some supernatural entities can drain the energy from devices, so it’s essential to be prepared for any of your equipment failing.
For attire, prioritise comfort and practicality. Some expert ghost hunters recommend wearing all-black.
Never investigate alone
Safety should be at the top of your list when on a ghost hunt. Always have a friend or team of experienced professionals with you. You’re not only dealing with ghosts; you may also encounter people living at the residences you’re visiting.
What’s more, “haunted” houses and buildings can be dangerous, and having a trusty companion or two by your side is essential for safety.
Research the location
Whether you’re exploring your own home or visiting a famous haunted hotspot, delving into the past can provide fascinating insights that enhance your ghostly experiences.
In addition to learning about the location’s background and any significant events that took place there, you should also find out whether the public has exclusive access to the site. You don’t want to go trespassing on properties – even if they’re abandoned.
Ghost Hunting Techniques
One of the best things about ghost hunts is that there’s no right or wrong way to approach them. Some investigators rely on scientific methods, while others choose more traditional ghost-hunting techniques like Ouija boards, glass divination, and table tipping.
Here are a few helpful techniques you can try on your ghost hunts:
Hunt on the ghost’s time
Timing is everything when embarking on a ghost hunt. Being aware of when the most ghostly activity tends to occur can significantly impact your success. Some locations come alive with eerie happenings during the evening and at night, while others may have unique conditions or other specific times that trigger paranormal occurrences.
Use a trigger object
Once you’ve gathered relevant information about the location history and the specific haunting, consider bringing along an object that is related to the spirit or the haunting.
For instance, if the ghost is believed to be a child, bringing a toy can create a connection and potentially elicit a response.
Encourage the ghost to show itself
If you want to establish a connection, first ask the ghost if it’s willing to communicate with you. Address the ghost in a gentle and inviting tone, expressing your intention to communicate and do no harm.
When posing questions to the ghost, frame them in a way that allows for simple “yes” or “no” responses. Ouija boards are particularly handy in this instance.
Remember, each interaction with a ghost is unique, and results may vary. Be sure to approach the experience with patience and an open mind.
A true ghost hunter documents and records absolutely everything. A digital recorder is a great tool to have while on a ghost hunt. EVPs, or Electronic Voice Phenomena, are devices that generate white noise, which spirits allegedly use to communicate.
Other devices you can use to document your ghost hunt include thermal cameras and EMF meters.
Engage your senses
You may sense a presence, hear a strange sound, or even smell something unusual while on your ghost hunt. Engaging your senses is must – whenever you have the urge to take a picture or use a piece of equipment, do it.
This also applies to experiences where you may feel overwhelmed or have the urge to leave. In such an event, pay close attention and consider it a sign that maybe you’re not welcome.
Essential Ghost-Hunting Gear
Ghost hunting equipment can be quite pricey (but worth it), so start with simple gear as a beginner ghost hunter before investing in more advanced equipment.
Here’s a list of essential gadgets:
- Torch: You’re going to need a trusty torch to navigate in the dark. We recommend a hands-free headlamp and an infrared torch for night vision.
- Cameras: You could use your smartphone, but they don’t have the real night vision or infrared capabilities of a high-quality infrared camera. While on the pricier side, the Phasm Camera is a great choice.
- EVP recorder: A digital audio recorder is a highly recommended tool to have on ghost hunts. It allows you to capture electronic voice phenomena and listen back to recall events that happened during your ghost hunt.
- EMF meter: An electromagnetic field detector helps detect fluctuations in the magnetic field that may be caused by ghostly apparitions.
Do you need paranormal experience to go on a ghost hunt?
No! A ghost hunt can be enjoyed by beginners, as long as they have a sense of curiosity and the right equipment.
Can kids join on ghost hunts?
This decision is really up to the guardians. It could be too scary for kids. Some establishments organise kid-friendly ghost hunts, which could be a good idea.