Category Archive: Resources

Jan 28

Investigation and Research Teams: Dealing with the Living

t1by Virginia Carraway Stark

An important part of leading or being a member of any paranormal investigative team is how you handle the living. It is unlikely that ghosts are going to calling and asking you to come over and have a look at them. What is going to happen is that living people who may be scared, excited or outright hysterical and terrified are going to be calling you and you need to deal with them first and foremost in any investigation.

 

You need to be aware that you are likely going to be going into someone’s house or onto their land. You are in their space and you need to be polite and professional. If you are under the delusion that you are on a television show and want to act out and play things up or be rude to people then please reconsider your choice to be a paranormal investigator. Much of what is shown on television is done for shock value and is likely staged. When you are dealing with real people who believe they are haunted, possessed or worse, then you need to be extra sensitive to taking their heightened feelings into account. This investigation is not about you and it’s not about being the ‘star’ of anything. When you are investigating, nothing is about you, it is all about the research and the clients who have trusted you.

You are being invited into someone’s life and entrusted with their problems. This is a position that you must never abuse. You must be as honest as possible with your clients about your limitations as an investigator and you must not try to solve problems that you can’t solve or make promises that you can’t keep.

t2Fundamentally you need to be aware that you are providing a service. By definition, this makes you in the service industry. This doesn’t mean that the customer is always right, but it does mean that you are making a commitment to try to work with your clients and to satisfy their requirements. Be aware of how people are reacting to you. Are they stand-offish? Do they open up to you? Analyze their body language and how open they are to you in their demeanor. The more open they are the more likely they will be to give you the information you require to do a competent and professional job.

Try to think of the situation from your client’s perspective. How would you feel in their situation. Be honest with yourself and apply that to your dealings with your living clients.

If you find people are having a bad reaction to your approach it’s time to re-evaluate how you interact with other people. Your people skills will contribute at least an equal part to your success as a paranormal investigator as your knowledge of the paranormal and the actual investigations that you do.

Jan 22

Analyzing Digital Audio

Lisa Shaner-Hilty

Lisa Shaner-Hilty

I am a supervisor for several programs assisting individuals with intellectual and mental challenges. I have 2 Masters Degrees from Penn State in Communication Disorders and Psychology. My first experiences with the paranormal were around age 5. I’ve been fascinated ever since. I have been an investigator for over 10 years (first 5 years with a team, then leaving to form my own more than 5 years ago, and have taught classes on investigation, evidence analysis (especially EVP) and debunking at local community college. I also have abilities, some of which began at age 5 and others around puberty. Therefore my fields of major interest are investigation and psychic and empath. While I am open to considering all aspect and viewpoints, I am dedicated to seeking natural explanations first before anything is considered evidence.
Lisa Shaner-Hilty

Latest posts by Lisa Shaner-Hilty (see all)

daOne of the most common methods we use to gather evidence in an investigation is audio. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on digital recorders. Since some readers may not be familiar with the use of digital recording, let’s go over the basics first.

There is such a wide array of recording devices available on the market today, that choosing one can be intimidating. There are inexpensive models you can purchase at any electronics store, some even have intelligent noise cut to remove much of the background noises for you as it records. I saw a wrist recorder online recently at quite the reasonable price. I have not tried it, and so will not speak to its quality. There are models that gather sound from a full 360 degree radius and allow in the field play back, which are more than double the cost. I have recently seen a 360 degree model coming out that has flashy visual features, with all the bells and whistles – I shudder to think what the cost will be when it hits the market. I have several recorders of differing types; some cost around $70 and my 360 cost $300.

To be honest, all of the models I have tried get great sound and have very sensitive microphones. That said, the fancier models have a learning curve. You will need to read up on them and practice prior to bringing to investigation, in order to use properly and get your money’s worth out of the features. If you are not a “read all of the instructions person”, these are probably not for you. My favorite is a $70 digital with intelligent noise cut that I purchased at a local electronics chain. Just be sure you get a model with a USB port (rookie mistake many, many years ago). The more advanced, expensive models can be purchased online from any of the paranormal equipment sites, or from Amazon, etc. to save money. After paying $300 for my 360 recorder online, I saw it a music store that caters to bands, etc. for $70 less than I paid. In short, shop around if you are looking for these models.

As stated above, I have several recorders, as do other team members. During an investigation, we ensure that they are spread throughout the room, and often will leave recorders in areas of reported activity even when we are elsewhere on site, to optimize opportunity to capture something interesting (just don’t forget to retrieve before you leave! Recorders should not be held on your hand, as you often see on television, as these sensitive microphones will pick up every time you inadvertently move your finger, or shift your stance. This will contaminate your evidence. They should be placed on sold flat surfaces during a session. Similarly movement should be kept to an absolute minimum, and any noises of which you are aware of the source should be ‘tagged” as such, so as not to be mistaken for potential evidence. Some use white noise in EVP sessions (white noise would sound like static from old model televisions, or a radio not tuned in to a station), [ASSAP.uc.uk] believing that spirit will come through the noise to communicate. Others, myself included, take measures to eliminate any extraneous noise, believing this enhanced the ability to hear any potential finding more clearly.

My team places a few recorders around the room/area during each session, for a number of reasons. First, one recorder may be closer to a sound source, for example an air vent, which may then serve to debunk a less clear artifact that is farther away – as in furnace/duct work noises. The same can be said for a recorder near a window debunking voices as people outside. Second, more than one recorder picking up the same potential EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon, a response which, while not heard at the time of recording, is heard on recorder upon evidence analysis), this can serve to corroborate the finding. Third, at times a potential finding may be caught on one recorder, but not another, due to many recorders’ microphones being extremely directional – only picking up sounds to one area in relation to its placement. [1] With only one recorder, we would have missed that piece of potential evidence. Keep sessions relatively brief, and stop the recorder between rooms/areas so that they are easier to manage in analysis.

ANALYSIS:
So now you have the very basics. Time for the subject at hand, analysis. You have conducted a controlled EVP session; what now? Some people choose to listen for EVPs with the naked ear. Others by simply plugging earphones into the recorder itself. Depending on your purposes, these personal choices may work fine. However, it is more difficult to discern what you are hearing and even more difficult to isolate the area or find it again later. In order to manage hours of recordings from an investigation, with the intent of presenting findings to a client, these methods would prove ineffective.

Many investigators choose to use analysis software installed to their computers. There are many to choose from in this category as well. Some can be downloaded for free, others offer a free trial period before you would need to purchase. Some are more user friendly than others, as in most software. As I do not wish to tout one software program over anther, my advice is to shop around, ask seasoned investigators for their opinions – and the reasons for those opinions.

If you choose to use analysis software, you will need to familiarize yourself with its capabilities. Keep in mind that these programs are also used by musicians, etc. to edit the sound of their music. You will not need many of the features. Using the USB connection that comes with your recorder, plug the small end into your recorder, and the USB into your computer. Open your analysis software program. Select one file to work with first. With your analysis program open, select a recorded file to work with first and open it in your program. I use noise-canceling headphones personally. Listen closely to the file. You may hear an anomalous sound or what seems to be speech. With the software, you have the ability to select that area to isolate it. I personally will then play it on a loop, so that I can begin to seek out a debunk for the sound…never neglect your due diligence! If the area continues to be of interest, I save it into a folder with site, room, and what I feel it may be, then come back to the clips I’ve saved at a later time for closer analysis. Once I have gone through each fie, I then go back and examine each saved clip more closely, listening for natural explanations and determining what I hear. I then delete debunked clips, and change the name of those I choose to keep (adding “.lisa” to the end of the clip name helps me keep track of where I am in the process and stay organized). Other investigators choose to resolve each anomaly before moving on. It is merely a matter of personal preference.

While some investigators alter their clips by amplifying, slowing or speeding up the clip, filtering, adding effects to them; others, myself included, feel that if it is necessary to manipulate it to that extent, it is not likely a viable piece of evidence. This level of manipulation also makes the clip sound mechanized and will likely be seen as suspect. While at times, some amplification may help to hear a clip better, potential evidence should be altered as little as possible, if at all. Personally, I use the software simply because it makes managing the copious amount of recordings more manageable with the ability to save areas of interest. Keep the whole files as well, in case you need to refer to them at a later date. Realizing this can eat up space on your hard drive, thumb drives or CDs for each investigation are life savers. I also make a copy of any findings that “make the cut” for my clients to keep for themselves.

“Background noise is important! It provides an audio context and reassures the listener that the recording has not been manipulated. It can also provide clues to any possible natural explanations for apparently paranormal sounds. For instance, is the paranormal sound louder than the ambient background noise, about the same level or fainter? If the sound is louder than the background noise then there is the possibility that it is a real sound that was not noted at the time or was forgotten. It is also possible that the microphone was directional and happened to be aimed at a sound source that no one noticed at the time. It could also be radio or electrical interference. If the apparently paranormal sound (APS) sound is at the same level as, or fainter than, the background ambient noise, then it could be a chance effect. Background noise is, typically, random and unpredictable. If two elements of it (such as a squeaky chair and a creaking floorboard or an electric fan and a noise from outside) happen to occur at the same time, they may combine to sound like something quite different and weird. By listening to the background over a long period, you may be able to deduce that this is precisely what has happened.” [ibid]

Now, you have thoroughly analyzed your digital audio recordings – quite a lengthy and daunting task with the hours of audio. You have done your due diligence to eliminate any and all natural explanations for the voices or other anomalies you found. You have carefully documented from where they were taken and on whose recorder (prior to starting a session in each new room, my team is sure to turn on our recorders at the same time, introduce the site, date, time, room, and who is sitting or standing where). Now you are meeting with your client to review what you feel has “cut the mustard”, so to speak. It is very easy to manipulate what others hear if you tell them u front what you feel the clip “says”. Personally, I give the client headphones and play the clip at least once to orient them to the actual length and sound of clip, being careful to avoid them seeing the “name” of the clip. If they wish, I will put it on a loop. I encourage their input as to what they hear. Only when they have had ample time to assess on their own, do I tell them what I feel I have heard. At times, what the client hears makes more sense to the context of the site and their experiences. Remember to stay objective and open-minded. Find a process with which you are comfortable and off you go!

Oct 28

Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data

Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data

Mineral Resources On-Line Spatial Data

Interactive maps and downloadable data for regional and global Geology, Geochemistry, Geophysics, and Mineral Resources [Mobile version]

Map interfaces showing multiple data sets
Topical indexes of scientific data
Scientific Topics

Select data resources by choosing scientific topics such as geologic structure, mine sites, magnetic field, mine drainage, or chemical elements.
Geographic Area: United States or World continents

Select data resources by choosing geographic areas by name from lists of countries, states, and counties; named USGS map quadrangles; and hierarchical hydrologic units (drainage basins).
Web services providing data for GIS applications
For users of geographic information system software (GIS)
OGC Web Map Services
Image services conforming to the Open Geospatial Consortium specification for web maps

OGC Web Feature Services
Geographic feature services conforming to the Open Geospatial Consortium specification for simple features

OGC Web Map Tile Services
Image services conforming to the Open Geospatial Consortium specification for tiled web maps
Web service APIs for general uses
For application developers who wish to use data from this system in their own work
Ask MRData!
Can’t find what you’re looking for? Let us know what you need; we’ll point you in the right direction.
Resource: http://mrdata.usgs.gov/

Oct 24

The Haunting At Blue Limestone Park

The Haunting At Blue Limestone Park
Delaware, OH

By Lyza Treadway

 

Any major accident, especially one involving the railroad and trains, is bound to come with a ghost story. This is no exception.

In small town Ohio, during the 1920’s, the community was rocked by a devastating train derailment. Some say it took weeks to clean up. Others say the accident never even happened, almost like a big cover up conspiracy. As with most tales of ghosts, the details are hard to pin down of exactly what happened, as accounts vary. Legend has it that dozens died as a train slipped off the tracks as it was passing over a tunnel, and wound up in a quarry.

In more recent years, the park has been the sight of occult activity based on remnants left behind and graffiti plastered around. The site of a mass death might just be the perfect place to raise the dead, or for teens looking to scare others.

People say if you go to the park at night, you will see strange lights moving. They also say that if you go near the tunnel where the accident allegedly occurred, you will hear crying and voices asking for help. Are the lights simple reflections, orbs, or spirits manifesting? Could the voices be a simple acoustic trick of the tunnel, water, and trains vibrating from the tracks that are still in use? Nobody has stuck around long enough to find out, or at least lived to share their story.

http://www.ohioexploration.com/delawarecounty.htm

http://www.weirdus.com/…/ghos…/blue_limestone_park/index.php

Lyza Treadway's photo.
Lyza Treadway's photo.

Oct 24

Demonic Possession and the resemblance to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis

Holly Moreland

Holly Moreland

Director - Div 2 at National Paranormal Society
Hi, My name is Holly. I live in the middle of Michigan on a small quiet lake with my significant other. I have 2 children, and a couple I choose to also call my own! I have had a few experiences that have made me scratch my head about so I reached out to see what others have encountered! I love to research and communicate what I find in any aspect of life! I also seem to have a need to help others or I could say others seem to seek me out for help! Happy to be part of the group!!.
Holly Moreland

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Demonic Possession and the resemblance to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis.

By Holly Moreland

 

Lets talk today about “demonic possession” and the resemblance to Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis. What is Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis you ask? I will get to that in a minute. I first want to tell you what originally sparked my interest in this particular subject. I am guilty! My interest did not come from the very well known movie “The Exorcist”, but came from watching a movie “Exorcism of Emily Rose”. Many of you may have watched this movie based on the case of Anneliese Michel. Now I am not saying that Anneliese suffered from this disease. Only that it peeked my interest and some of the symptoms are so similar. Makes one wonder if this disease had been discovered back then if it was possible it could have been the cause and had a different outcome.

I came across an actual case of Susannah Cahalan. A healthy 24 year old reporter for the New York Post. She was the 217th person to be diagnosed with this disease in 2009. The disease was first identified in 2007. I have attached a link to one of many articles telling her story.

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis is a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the brain. Antibodies turn on the brain its self and causes it to swell. The disease mostly infects young women and is often mis diagnosed as psychological disorders, and possibly demonic possession. Although extremely rare, you can see why asking the tough questions and searching for all answers is crucial to the paranormal community.

Main symptoms

Flu-like symptoms

Memory deficits, including loss of short-term memory;

Sleep disorders;

Speech dysfunction – the patient is no longer able to produce coherent language or may be completely unable to communicate

Cognitive and behavioral disturbances – confused thinking, hallucinations, delusional thinking, dis inhibited behaviors;

Seizures;

Movement disorders – usually of the arms and legs and the mouth and tongue, but may include full body spasms. These types of movements are very common in Anti-NMDA Receptor Encephalitis and the patient is unable to control them. They are often quite severe, requiring the patient to be restrained and sedated for their own safety and those of their care-givers. Sometimes patients are unable to move, and may appear like a statue, holding the same position for hours or days (catatonia);

Loss of consciousness – The patient may be semi-conscious or may slip into a coma;

Autonomic dysfunction – erratic breathing, heartbeat and blood pressure; loss of bladder control and bowel movements;

Central hypoventilation – the patient may stop breathing, and may require a mechanical breathing machine.

Vision and/or hearing may also be impaired.

I encourage you to read Susannah’s story! How her life was turned upside down! Her symptoms were mimicking that of what some people believe to be demonic possession. Also read the article attached on the disease. What are your thoughts? What might we ask or do if we come across such a case this extreme?

http://www.antinmdafoundation.org/…/what-is-anti-nmda-rece…/

Oct 24

How To Keep The Pareidolia Under Control

How To Keep The Pareidolia Under Control
by Jim Brown for NPS


Previous articles I have written have covered equipment quality and how we are all influenced by pareidolia. It was shown that most “evidence” can be dismissed due to pareidolia, and that we all fall victim to this phenomena. This article will address a couple methods we can use to help reduce the influence of pareidolia on our audio recordings.

There are two major factors that come into play when we do EVP / AVP work. The first are our preconceptions. We enter an area and begin asking questions. Unwittingly we have already set ourselves up for pareidolia. We expect an answer! Our minds are keyed up for a response to our questions. And often we begin by asking something like ,”Is anyone here?”

How stupid is that! We expect a “Yes” answer, otherwise why would we even be here in the first place? We have already conditioned ourselves for an expected response before it even comes. Not only that, the expected response is actually favored by the conditions at hand! Consider the fallacy of even asking a “Yes-No” question.

Let’s look at the word “Yes” itself. It is comprised of three phonemes; A minor (not emphasized) “y” sound at the beginning, the major “eh” phoneme at the center, followed by an “ss” sound at the end of the word. Provide those phonemes and pareidolia will allow almost everyone to hear the word “Yes” regardless of whether the phonemes are real or just approximations of the word. Now where might these sounds originate?

All recordings have a certain level of electron hiss present. That sound mimics the “SS” sound in speech. It is available to add its influence at all times. Next the minor “y” sound. That is not a strong phoneme and in fact may not even be present, yet if conditions are right, pareidolia will supply it to the interpretation. So really all we need is a trigger; something like the “eh” sound. It turn out that this one of the most common sounds in speech, and also is very similar to many background sounds we encounter. So we ask the question and something makes a sound similar to the “eh” sound. Our mind picks up on that and immediately also notices the faint electron noise hiss in the background. Now we hear “ehss”! The “y” sound is not really there, but it doesn’t take much for the pareidolia effect to add it in. And of course, we are already conditioned to expect a positive response. So now we have the answer to our question, “Is anyone here?” “y+eh+ss” or YES!

What about “No”? “NO” involves two phonemes, however both are much less likely to be generated than those in the word “Yes”. First, both are major, that is strong. They are also of longer duration. Thus the probability of spurious generation is reduced meaning the probability of pareidolia generating the word “NO” is greatly reduced. This can be proven if one simply looks at responses claimed to be EVP by those who have done sessions. You will find that “YES” responses outnumber “NO” responses claimed by about four to one. Between the preconception of expecting a “Yes” response and the characteristic of the word itself it can be shown that pareidolia is responsible for most of these claims.

What can we do to minimize this effect? The best method is to ask questions requiring a more in depth response. As the number of phonemes increases the probability of pareidolia decreases simply because the response becomes more complex. One or two phonemes may accidentally fall together to form a word, but putting 8 or 10 together at random is much less probable, unless of course speech is actually present. So ask questions requiring opinion or observation, not single word responses. Responses will come much less frequently, but it is no coincidence that pareidolia also decreases.

The second way we can identify pareidolia is by a more careful review of any recording we may obtain. Earlier I mentioned how pareidolia builds words from phonemes. We can be more diligent about those phonemes. Let’s reconsider the word “Yes”, and its three phonemes. Listen critically, are ALL those phonemes really there? Make an effort to hear each including the minor “y” sound. Does the “S” sound end abruptly as a word or does it just fade into the background like electron hiss? Often a critical analysis of the word reveals it is not as it first seems. Pareidolia has struck again! And if we can identify it as such we will obtain much more reliable evidence and less easily debunked wishful thinking.

Oct 24

St. Michaels Prayer for Protection

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

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St. Michael’s Prayer for Protection

By Lillee Allee

 

There is only one entity in the history of the Church that is both an angel and a saint: St. Michael the Archangel. This protection prayer is particularly good for paranormal teams, though St Michael is the patron saint of the military and the police. He also is patron of grocers, mariners, paratroopers, and sickness. The story around the creation of this prayer is particularly unusual.

In 1884, Pope Leo XIII was in conference with Cardinals (high priests of the Catholic Church). He celebrated Mass, and suddenly fainted. Physicians were called and found no pulse. Suddenly, the pontiff came back and explained that he had had a horrible vision of evil spirits released from their captivity in hell in order to destroy the Church. He then saw St. Michael appear and threw them all back into the pit. He then wrote out the long prayer you will find below. It was also part of practice for the St. Michael Prayer to be said in church after a low mass during Vatican I. This practice vanished with the beginning of Vatican II.

St. Michael’s feast day was originally September 29th and some still celebrate that today. His color (for candles, for example) is red, and his direction is south when occult rituals place angels in every quarter of a ritual. His name, which a direct nod to his story in the Christian Bible, means “Who is like God?” In angel hierarchy, he is a prince of the Seraphim.

Sacred places devoted to Michael first appeared in the 4th century, as a healing angel, and then believers saw him as a protector and the leader of the army of God against By the 6th century, devotions to Archangel Michael were widespread both in the Eastern and Western Churches. Today Christians and others venerate St. Michael.

 

The popular short version (most common:

 

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen

 

In Latin, the Vatican I version:

 

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium. Ímperet ílli Déus, súpplices deprecámur: tuque, prínceps milítiæ cæléstis, Sátanam aliósque spíritus malígnos, qui ad perditiónem animárum pervagántur in múndo, divína virtúte, in inférnum detrúde. Ámen

 

 

 

The long original version:

 

 

“O Glorious Prince of the heavenly host, St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle and in the terrible warfare that we are waging against the principalities and powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against the evil spirits. Come to the aid of man, whom Almighty God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of Satan.

 

 

 

 

“Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.

 

“These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be.

 

“Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly find mercy in the sight of the Lord; and vanquishing the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers.

R. The Lion of the tribe of Judah has conquered the root of David.

V. Let Thy mercies be upon us, O Lord.

R. As we have hoped in Thee.

V. O Lord, hear my prayer.

R. And let my cry come unto Thee.

 

Let us pray.

O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy Name, and as supplicants, we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all the other unclean spirits who wander about the world for the injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.”

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

Roman Raccolta, July 23, 1898, supplement approved July 31,1902, London: Burnes, Oates & Washbourne Ltd., 1935, 12th edition.

 

St. Michael the Archangel. Retrieved October 5, 2015 from http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=308

 

St. Michael the Archangel Prayer. Retrieved October 4, 2015 from http://www.traditioninaction.org/religious/b009rpMichael.htm

Oct 24

Choosing The Proper Digital Recorder for EVP Work

Choosing The Proper Digital Recorder for EVP Work

by Jim Brown for NPS

 

First, to be clear I am not recommending any particular make or model.  To do so would require that I have actually tested it in my lab under controlled conditions.   Since my name is not Donald Trump, I can’t afford to buy one of everything and conduct the level of testing needed to make such a determination of which is “Best”.

 

What I can do is post a list and explain the specifications your recorder must meet to conduct such research and minimize false positives.  You can also use this list to determine the proper setting for your recorder; even the most expensive recorders can be downgraded by their settings to be rendered useless.  No matter what recorder you use it is your obligation to use settings which meet or exceed these specifications.

 

So let’s begin.

 

  1. Your recorder shall record in stereo (Two or more independent tracks). This is done for two purposes.  First since we have two ears it allows us to form a sense of direction for the source.  That same audio can also be used with an oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer should you want to conduct more intense spatial analysis of the area.  (I won’t go into all that here, suffice it to say spatial analysis requires two channels sourced from mics a known distance apart.)   The second reason is redundancy.  Two mics using two separate amplifiers are unlikely to pick up the same external interference should it occur.  Thus stereo recordings provide their own reference against each other.

 

  1. Your recorder shall use a 24 bit wide A to D converter. Many voice recorders only use 16.  The number of bits represent the number of possible audio levels available for conversion.  This is the resolution of your audio and directly affects the amount of conversion errors. (All conversion has some.)  An analogy to this is better understood in photography.  All factors equal, a 15 megapixel camera can produce a much sharper picture than a 4 megepixel camera.  Thus the possibility of canversion errors and pareidolia is reduced by the higher bit count.

 

  1. Your recorder shall sample at 96 KBPS or higher. The sample rate is the number of conversions made each second.  I won’t go into Nyquist Points and how the conversion errors increase as the signal approaches the frequency of the signal.   Suffice it to say that to obtain a good conversion with minimal aliasing the sample rate must be at least 3 times the highest frequency being converted. Since the “S” sounds in speech require up to 4 kHz, one might suspect that a sample rate of 12 kBPS would be sufficient.   But that would be wrong.

 

The Nyquist Point applies to sinosodial waveforms.  Speech is irregular and contains harmonics needed to provide proper inflections.  If we were to look at how the various frequencies interact on a scope it can be shown that we must provide the second, third, and fourth harmonic to properly represent the signal.  Thus our “S” sound is not 4 kHz, but 12 kHz!  So the minimum sample rate has just been bumped up to 36 KBPS.

 

I added the extra sampling simply because we don’t know what EVP is. We can’t definitively say there is no EVP audio above the “S” sound.  So extending it to 96 KBPS actually allows good converion with minimal error up to 6 Khz, just in case something else is present at the higher audio frequency.

 

  1. Your Recorder shall use a non-lossy conversion protocol. One of the problems facing digital recording is file size.  As a result to keep size down a system called Code-Excited Linear Prediction (CELP) was developed.  While I won’t get into the complex algorithms involved, in summary it looks at each sample then makes a prediction what the next SHOULD be.  Thus some samples can be  skipped to minimize memory usage, the algorithm fills in for the ones ommitted.  But since we don’t know what represents an EVP, how can we determine what can be safely removed from one?

 

The solution is to use a protocol known as Pulse-Code Modulation. (PCM) This is a much simpler method; it simply samples the audio and saves each conversion.  Thus there are no conversion errors introduced, but at the expense of requiring much more memory capacity and large files.  Thus to satisy this requirement your recorder shall use PCM, not CELP for conversion.

 

  1. Your Recorder shall use a non-lossy file format. Related to conversion is file handling. Losses and errors are introduced if a file is compressed.  Many recorders use the MP3 format to keep file size down.  This is unacceptable.  Rather the proper format is WAV.  This simply saves the digital equivalent of the audio without compression.  So your EVP recordings must be in uncompressed WAV format.  (Note:  Beware, some variations of WAV exist which do involve compression algorithms.  These are also unacceptable.)

 

All of the above specifications can be obtained from manufacturer’s spec sheets for any machine you may be considering.   There is a sixth requirement that is generally more difficult to obtain but is very important.   Usually (Rule of thumb here)  the more the recorder costs the more likely it is to meet this requirement.

 

  1. Your recorder shall incorporate adequate shileding against stray EM Fields. Failure here produces “EVP” caused by radio broadcasts or other outside interference.  Tests to verify proper shielding can be done in a lab where a strong RF field is generated around the recorder while recording.  The recorder should pick up no interference from the RF.   You can also do a quick and dirty version of this test yourself if you live near a strong AM radio station.   Simply visit the transmitter site and record silence.  If the radio station can be heard the recorder fails the test.  (Not definitive but it does rule out some of the more obvious failures before they get used to create more false EVP.)

 

Next: EVP Session methods.

 

 

Oct 24

Strengths and Limitations of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

Latest posts by Lillee Allee (see all)

Strengths and Limitations of Qualitative and Quantitative Research

By Lillee Allee

 

Research methods in social sciences fall into two basic categories: qualitative or quantative. Simply defined, qualitative research involves open-ended questions, diaries and interviews. While these studies are helpful, actual analysis can be difficult. Quantitative research can be ranked, reduced to numbers, measurements and ratings. Thus, analysis is made easier with clearer conclusions. Some work offers quantitative and qualitative data such as a questionnaire which will have yes/no answers (reduced to numbers) and descriptions of events (which are qualitative.

 

Qualitative studies have many strengths and limitations, as do quantitative works.

Leedy and Ormond (2005) point out that problems may arise with quantitative research because it is often in a manipulated, experimental setting (such as a laboratory). While the researcher’s level of control is high in a quantitative study, there is also a chance that the results may not transfer to the general population in natural settings

 

Case studies would fall under qualitative research. Qualitative methods are invaluable to explore an issue and to gain some understanding, but also can be very limited in terms of generalizations. As Leedy and Ormond also note, with some qualitative studies, again such as an investigation, the researcher becomes a part of the experiment itself and this can cause some problems relating to objectivity. There is also a need for the researcher to remain understanding and willing to spend time understanding his or her role and not bring personal bias into the equation. This could inevitably cause confusion in later analysis and in provided conclusions that the data seems to support, but is ultimately flawed.

 

Gathering data can also be tricky. If there is more than one observer, it is very important that their results agree in terms of actual behaviors observed. Inter-rater reliability is defined as “the correlation between several ratings by independent evaluators of a variable (for example, participant’s performance) that is, the extent of agreement among the evaluators” (Corsini, 2002, p. 502). Leedy and Ormrod state it “is the extent to which two or more individuals evaluating the same product or performance give identical judgments” (p. 97). This is an important area that needs to be discussed between paranormal teams and the entire community.

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Corsini, R. (2002) The Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Brunner Routledge.

Gladding, S. T. (2005). The counseling dictionary. (2nd ed.) Upper Saddle River,

NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Leedy, P. D., & Ormrod, J. E. (2005). Practical research: Planning and design (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill Prentice Hall.

McLeod, Saul. Qualitative Quantitative (2008) Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/qualitative-quantitative.html

 

Oct 24

Beginner’s Guide to screenshots with Apple Products

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

Latest posts by Lillee Allee (see all)

Beginner’s Guide to screenshots with Apple Products

By Lillee Allee

 

Apple users are still in the minority compared to PC users with computers, though the IPhones and IPads certainly are popular. One of the big questions is how to screen shot as it is different for Apple Users

 

On your Apple computer:

  • Make sure that everything that you want to shoot is visible on your screen.
  • Hold down shift and command
  • Hit the #4 key
  • Beginning at the top left corner with your cursor, select the entire item you want to shoot.
  • With sound on, you will here the shutter
  • You will see your screen shot on your desktop
  • Hint: label each item you have for better identification when you need to choose it to place on your webpage, facebook etc.

 

On Your IPhone:

  • On the right side of the phone, near the top, you will find your sleep/wake button that you use to power down your phone
  • Hold your sleep/wake button down.
  • Press and release the home button (bottom center)
  • You will here a shutter sound effect.
  • Your screenshot will be automatically placed in your photo library.

 

On Your IPad:

  • Make sure that everything that you want to shoot is visible on your screen.
  • On the right side of the phone, near the top, you will find your sleep/wake button that you use to power down your pad
  • Find your home button, located in the center, bottom of your pad
  • Press the sleep/wake button and the home button at the same time (you only need to do this for a second –if you wait longer the pad will turn off)
  • With sound on, you will hear a shutter sound
  • You will see a white screen
  • Just look through your Camera Roll to see your shot. Camera Roll, click on the “Photos” app on your home screen.

 

  • “Camera Roll” will be listed as your first album.
  • Look for the final image at the bottom – there it is!

 

Sources

support.apple.com

 

http://www.wikihow.com/Take-a-Screenshot-With-an-iPad

Oct 24

The Physically Challenged Investigator

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

Latest posts by Lillee Allee (see all)

The Physically Challenged Investigator

By Lillee Allee

 

Today we have more and more individuals with physical disabilities, some are obviously apparent; others are invisible. The goal of this article is to encourage those with physical disabilities who enjoy the paranormal to be a part of a team. Like with anything in life, the challenged individual will need to share information and communicate with the team members.

While we humans have longer lives through the miracles of science, many maturing adults end up with some form of disability. Knees, ankles, shoulders and wrists may be affected from years of wear. Others may have back issues that can occur at any age. Using computers in various positions can affect one’s neck adversely. There are also those who have had challenges since birth. The physically challenged investigator can be valuable to paranormal teams. It is all about finding a position for yourself that includes your interest and can reasonably accommodate your disability.

There isn’t research available on how many disabled individuals are currently on paranormal teams. However, one gentleman by the name of Tom Miles from the Dover Paranormal team blogged about his work with his team. His disability was work-related and today has foot and leg issues that have changed his life considerably. He was forced to leave his career and go on disability. At first, he was very depressed about having to give up his professional position. He also had to give up driving due to the lack of sensation in his feet and because he had to wear a corrective boot. With the help of family, he began to realize that instead of seeing this as a liability, he could start following his passion with the paranormal. Miles stated that because his mother had been disabled before him, he already had gained understanding of how a disability can affect your entire life. He stated:

 

“I also leaned that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. But sometimes you just need a little help. There are many things that a person with a disability can do for a paranormal team. Just because a certain part of the body doesn’t function right doesn’t mean the person can still do his job.”

 

Kelly Spina, a representative for the National Paranormal Society has a different type of disability, but she can be accommodated by her team. Her disability can affect her general health and is affected by the weather. Her team allows her to skype into meetings if she is not up to going to the meeting. Her main position is the occult specialist, so she can do her work at anytime. When a client works with her team, other members work on the scientific end, while she researches the supernatural aspects and how to deal with what they may encounter.She is considered an alternative investigator, so she can attend according to her ability on that day.

Spina has learned to work well with team members. They understand her limitations and the team strives to work around them She is limited in mobility, having trouble with stairs and uneven ground, such as in a graveyard. The team accommodates her by having her partner with another investigator so she will not fall or become lost (since phones are not allowed at these investigations.) If there are levels to the site, she takes the ground level for observation.

Spina stated that she has found a team and can enjoy her investigating. She offered this advice:

“Don’t let anyone treat you like you’re an inconvenience, but also know your limits. I walk with a Canadian crutch when it’s cold or rainy, and I have to speak up for what my body is and isn’t capable of doing. They won’t know unless I speak up. I also take it upon myself to suggest what ways they can accommodate me. I never want to be viewed as an inconvenience by my team, I only want to be viewed as an asset.”

 

What positions are best for the disabled? It depends on the individual and their particular physical disability. Here are some examples:

 

 

Things that a disabled person can do to help a paranormal team with an investigation:

 

Case Management

You can’t be a team if you have nowhere to investigate. The case manager often will be looking for public places to peruse. This position may also involve being in touch with local networking with businesses and organizations. He/she may also be involved with intake: initial interviews with the clients, keeping folders with information for the members, planning the dates and times, organizing the appropriate group for a particular case and set up any and all meetings. All of these tasks may be done from home, and meetings can be online or through a group phone call as needed. Talents needed: organization, communication, basic internet experience.

 

Research

Research is an important aspect of any case, and it in fact could be considered the backbone of the case itself. Without knowing the history of the area, the specific site, police reports, etc, one could only go on the words of the client, who is looking for answers outside of his/herself. This can be done through short walks or entirely on the phone and computer. This is particularly an exciting job for older individuals who need to get out of the house. Those who are retired may have some excellent contacts and insight as to the resources in the area. This work can also be done among a number of members, accommodating and highlighting each person’s strength. The talents needed for research involve writing, patience and the ability to offer theories to the team.

 

Evidence Review

The reality shows do not show you the reality of evidence review. Audio and video needs to be reviewed and analyzed. A sight-challenged individual would work well with the audio; while a hearing-challenged individual may be able to do some of the video. Those who are confined to the home may also be able to sift through all the information. Miles points out that this is a great position for someone who cannot physically go on the investigation, as they can experience the investigation from the evidence. Sometimes the best eyes and ears on these “tapes” are those who are fresh and who were not there. It also avoids investigator bias.

 

Lead Investigator’s Assistant

Some lead investigators would welcome someone who would review the Reveal with them before the Lead has to present it to the client. An assistant can also interface with the case manager to schedule team members, confirm availability and collect the information from the case manager and the researchers.

 

Marketing and Public Relations/Website

One of the most important people on the team are those who work on the website and interface with organizations and other groups. The website is often the first impression any potential clients have. A strong presentation also offers credibility to the team. These individuals must have strong web experience but today there are also aids in building a website that there were not available in the past. The public relations end would involve fundraisers and the occasional press release as needed. These individuals may also be strong writers and editors so the page is easy to read and again, offers a professional presentation.

 

Record-Keeper and Case Closer

This individual will keep a record of all the investigations with the evidence and information. This person would also involve him/herself with a study such as Project Endeavor from the National Paranormal Society to aid in finding answers as to what teams are experiencing in the field.

 

These are just some of the wonderful opportunities for disabled individuals to involve themselves with the paranormal field. As Miles said:

 

“ If you have a disability, there are places you can go and I know there are teams out there who have a place for you just as our team has made a place for us. If you have a team in search of team members to help with evidence review, case management, research, monitoring equipment in the field, give a disabled person a chance, you may just be surprised!

 

Sources:

Miles, Tom. Ghost Hunting with a Disability – Dover Paranormal Team. May 13, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2015 from https://tipaonline.wordpress.com/2013/05/14/ghost-hunting-with-a-disability/.

 

Spina, Kelly. Personal Interview. October 2015.

 

Oct 24

Spandau Citadel

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

Latest posts by Lillee Allee (see all)

Spandau Citadel

By Lillee Allee

 

The Spandau Citadel (German: Zitadelle Spandau) is a fortress in Berlin, Germany, one of the best-preserved Renaissance military structures of Europe. Built from 1559–1594, it was built on top of a previous fort from the middle ages. The Citadel sits on an island between the Havel and the Spree rivers. It was a great locale to protect the town of Spandau, which is now part of Berlin. The four symmetrical

Bastions with its curtain walls; the Spandau citadel is an ideal example of a fortress. Its structure offers no place for enemies to remain undetected.

Troops were assigned in 1580, before it was even completed. The Swedes attacked in 1675 and Napoleon was victorious in 1806. The French left the structure in ruins on April 27, 1813. By 1935, it was restored and repurposed for a gas military nerve gas laboratory.

As World War II was ending, during the Battle in Berlin, the citadel became a defense again against the Soviets. The old building proved to be difficult to penetrate. The Soviets circled the structure to prevent any entrance or exist. The citadel’s commander surrendered to the Lieutenant-General Perkhorovitch’s 47th Army just after 3 pm on May 1, 1945.

Thus, after the war ended, Soviet troops occupied the Citadel. After Berlin was divided, the British got the Citadel.

The citadel was used as a prison for Prussian state prisoners such as German nationalist Friedrich Ludwig Jahn. It was not used as the prison for National Socialist war criminals, who were housed at Spandau prison in the same Berlin borough. It is important not to confuse these two buildings.

The Citadel has a gate house with a draw bridge used to stop unwanted entrance. The Gothic hall building palace was living quarters. In the bastion Königin, 70 medieval gravestones were found bearing witness of Jewish life in the important trade town and the function of the citadel as a refuge. Julius tower is Spandau’s most famous watchtower with its Romantic flair.. After the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871, France, paid 120 million marks in gold coin, kept in the Julius tower until returned to France in 1919. The word Juliusturm has since been used in Germany for governmental budget surpluses.

From 1950 to 1986, the citadel housed a vocational school Today you can find museums and exhibition halls. Spandau Citadel is famous for its open-air concerts during the Citadel Music Festival.

The Spandau Citadel has become a popular tourist spot. Considered as one of Germany’s 10 most haunted places, the Citadel has a sad ghost story. Anna Sydow, the ex lover of ruler Joachim II in the 15th century, was locked in the structure when it was briefly a prison. While Joachim II had asked his son to care for Anna, he put her in the prison. According to the legends, Anna remains there today, still imprisoned, walking the halls.

 

Sources

 

Halloween. The Spookiest Spots, Retrieved October 10, 2015 from http://www.thelocal.de/galleries/travel/germanys-10-most-haunted-spots

 

Spandau Citadel. Retrieved October 10, 2015 from https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spandau_Citadel

 

Welcome to Spandau Citadel. Retrieved October 10, 2015 from http://www.zitadelle-spandau.de/English_Version/english_version.html

 

Oct 24

Christmas Ghosts Stories

Lillee Allee

Lillee Allee

Representative at National Paranormal Society
Lillee Allee has studied religion, spirituality and paranormal investigation for over 40 years. She is the widow of John D. Allee, an internationally known dark magician. She continues to consult in paranormal investigation. Her specialties include: Marian and cultural spiritual phenomena/apparitions, spiritual support to teams and clients who want spiritual counseling after investigation, evp work and old school audio, the accuracy and research of past life regression and seance, and spiritual protection. Lillee was also one of the first to incorporate trained canines into paranormal investigations. She hosts a radio program on the para-x.com network, Happy Mediums, with Debra Ann Freeman, who also consults with paranormal investigative teams in Southern New England. Lillee is a published author and journalist, and legal clergy with degrees in psychology and mass communication. Lillee walks on the middle path sees learning as a life-long endeavor and is looking to make a difference and contribution to this field before she too will be heard on someone’s EVP. Lillee is always available to educate and consult and continues to enjoy guesting on other’s radio and television programs.
Lillee Allee

Latest posts by Lillee Allee (see all)

Why are Ghost Stories associated with Christmas?

By Lillee Allee

 

This is a question that many people have asked, and the answer goes farther than Charles Dickens, though his may arguably be the best ghost story for Christmas of all. In the song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” by Edward Pola and George Wyle, and recorded by Andy Williams in 1963:

“ . . . There’ll be scary ghost stories


And tales of the glories
of

 Christmases long, long ago…”

What would families do today without the help of recorded music, the Christmas log on a cable channel, or the plethora of great Christmas specials and shows for the season. How would you entertain guests? Looking at the fire in the fireplace is nice, but this was not a special event back then but simply a way to keep the family from freezing. There are three theories as to how ghost stories ended up as a part of the Christmas tradition: the pagan theory, the Dickens theory, and the Victorian theory.

The pagan theory involves pre-Christian traditions and beliefs. Yule was the darkest night of the year, and oral stories were shared. In Northern Europe, it was called the dark half of the year, and other than taking care of the animals, farming was at a standstill. It was time to explain why it was so cold and the sun disappeared so early. With the dark, may have come the stories of ghosts and ghouls as this was the dead season in so many ways. Scholars cannot make a definite connection, so this remains a theory at best.

The Dickens theory is that Charles Dickens first created the Christmas Ghost Story, and while this is the popular opinion, it is not accurate. He remains, however, the best known and most loved Christmas ghost story. Even towns across America commemorate Dicken’s story with actors on the streets.

Victorians loved their “penny dreadfuls,” their new technologies and became interested in death and communication with those who have passed. While this is a romantic idea, it is not going far enough into the history.

In the end, it may be a combination from all of the above and more. Researchers have found that Christmas scary stories appeared as early as the 1500s by Christopher Marlowe, from Shakespeare in the 1600s and even other writers such as H. P. Lovecraft, Edgar Alan Poe, Joseph Glanvilll and Washington Irving. At present, Christmas ghost stories can be traced back definitively to the 16th century, but many wonder if such stories appeared earlier than that.

 

Sources

Christmas Ghost Stories: The Ghost of Christmas Past goes back farther than you might realize. Retrieved October 11,2015 from http://www.gothichorrorstories.com/classic-gothic-ghost-stories/christmas-ghost-stories-the-ghost-of-christmas-past-goes-further-back-than-you-might-realize-2/

Christmas Ghost Stories. Retrieved October 11, 2015 from http://www.thisishorror.co.uk/features/christmas-ghost-stories/

Christmas Spirits Part I: The Origin of Ghost Stories at Christmas. Retrieved October 11, 2015 from http://www.hypnogoria.com/html/ghoststoriesforchristmas.html

Sep 17

Stigmatized Property

Holly Moreland

Holly Moreland

Director - Div 2 at National Paranormal Society
Hi, My name is Holly. I live in the middle of Michigan on a small quiet lake with my significant other. I have 2 children, and a couple I choose to also call my own! I have had a few experiences that have made me scratch my head about so I reached out to see what others have encountered! I love to research and communicate what I find in any aspect of life! I also seem to have a need to help others or I could say others seem to seek me out for help! Happy to be part of the group!!.
Holly Moreland

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police-line-stigmatized-propertiesStigmatized Property:

Stigmatized property is a property where the property may be less desirable to a buyer or tenant that is unrelated to its physical condition.

A list of what is considered stigmatized property is as follows:

Criminal Activity – Most states require that criminal activity be disclosed. This would include drug dealing and prostitution.

Debt – Some states require past debts be disclosed so that the buyer can be aware of possible harassing calls or visits from past owners creditors.

Murder/Suicide – Some states require that any murder or suicides on the property be disclosed to the buyers.

Phenomena – Hauntings, ghosts, poltergeist, and any other unexplained events which could affect the value must be disclosed.

There are other things that could stigmatize a property such as serious illness and known sex offenders in the area.

The duty to disclose stigmatized property varies state by state. Checking with a real estate professional, or attorney of the state in which you are considering buying the property is the best course of action.

If the state you are purchasing does not require the seller to disclose stigmatized property, conducting your own research into the property would be the next course of action.

http://www.legalmatch.com/…/duty-to-disclose-selling-stigma…

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stigmatized_property

Jul 21

Site Access Agreement

Samuel Sanfratello

Samuel Sanfratello

My name is Samuel Sanfratello (Sam). I am a NY state dual-certified Mathematics and Special Education teacher and a nationally certified Consulting Hypnotist. I am also the proud owner and operator of two companies: Monroe Hypnosis and Rochester Analytics. I am a 2nd generation Spiritualist (American Spiritualism) and a certified Medium with the Plymouth Spiritualist Church (the mother church of modern spiritualism). I am an organizer of the Rochester Paranormal Researchers, founded in 2007 and a lead investigator for the Paranormal Science Institute’s F.R.I.N.G.E team. In my spare time, I give back to my community by doing volunteer work for my church and for my local chamber of commerce. I became interested in the paranormal when I spoke with a spirit in my grandmother’s house in the early 1980s. I enjoy reading publications and scientific articles about the fringe sciences and I enjoy sharing these understandings with others.
Samuel Sanfratello

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b5NPS requires all members to follow our rules which are available online and in our facebook group. Rule #08 says, “Members will not be involved in any illegal activities or display unbecoming behavior that could directly or indirectly have an impact on NPS”.

Trespassing is a serious issues and can sometimes happen when there is a miscommunication between managers and owners of locations. To ensure that your team doesn’t run into trouble; I would highly recommend a “site access agreement”. This relatively simple document captures who you are working with, that they have permission to let you onto the site, and the date and time you will be there. This document should be kept on you during the investigation as well as having a copy where your team stores documents.

If you do not have a site agreement of your own, NPS has a site agreement available on our website that you can feel free to use: http://national-paranormal-society.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/NPS-Site-Access-Agreement.pdf

Jul 21

Wise Digital Library

Samuel Sanfratello

Samuel Sanfratello

My name is Samuel Sanfratello (Sam). I am a NY state dual-certified Mathematics and Special Education teacher and a nationally certified Consulting Hypnotist. I am also the proud owner and operator of two companies: Monroe Hypnosis and Rochester Analytics. I am a 2nd generation Spiritualist (American Spiritualism) and a certified Medium with the Plymouth Spiritualist Church (the mother church of modern spiritualism). I am an organizer of the Rochester Paranormal Researchers, founded in 2007 and a lead investigator for the Paranormal Science Institute’s F.R.I.N.G.E team. In my spare time, I give back to my community by doing volunteer work for my church and for my local chamber of commerce. I became interested in the paranormal when I spoke with a spirit in my grandmother’s house in the early 1980s. I enjoy reading publications and scientific articles about the fringe sciences and I enjoy sharing these understandings with others.
Samuel Sanfratello

Latest posts by Samuel Sanfratello (see all)

images_elibraryFor an item to be paranormal we have to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not a normal phenomena. Being familiar with a variety of scientific fields is desirable but not always possible. Where do you turn when you need to look up a phenomena that you have little familiarity with? The National Paranormal Society utilizes the WISE (World Institute for Scientific Exploration) as research repository and provides links to them from our site:http://national-paranormal-society.org/wise/

WISE keeps a digital library of periodicals available for researchers at: http://wisewiki.org/tiki-index.php…

The subcategories below have a number of journals (no longer current and current) in the following topic areas:

1. Biomedical Journals and Periodicals
2. Consciousness and Parapsychology Journals and Periodicals
3. Alternative and New Energy Journals and Periodicals
4. Scientific Anomalies and Unexplained Physical Phenomena Journals and Periodicals
5. Social Science Journals and Periodicals on Unexplained Phenomena and Events
6. Multiple Disciplinary Journals and Periodicals on Unexplained Phenomena
7. Skeptic Journals and Periodicals

Neither NPS nor myself can recommend every journal or every article in a journal; however, this is a great place to begin exploring for information that is relevant to your paranormal investigations.

While browsing through the journals I found a journal that studies electromagnetic fields. The articles were informative and they even had a store listing of different products used in scientific field (can present us with great information than the k2 meter). Their site is: http://microwavenews.com/emf1.html

So take some time today to familiar yourself with WISE and read a new journal article on a topic that interests you!

Jul 20

The Psychology of Black

This photo was taken of my friends fishing at night, though the photo looks mysterious ... it is just of a beach during a rainfall.

This photo was taken of my friends fishing at night, though the photo looks mysterious … it is just of a beach during a rainfall.

*Black is real sensation, even if it is produced by entire absence of light. The sensation of black is distinctly different from the lack of all sensation. -Hermann von Helmholz

You’re walking through a corridor; it’s moderately lit by the lights hanging in the ceiling. There are no doors on either end and now there’s a brick wall behind you so your only choice is to continue forward towards what appears to be an exit. As you are walking down this mysterious corridor with your exit in sight, the lights above suddenly go out and now you are in total darkness. When looking forward you see black. Backwards, the same, and either side, same. Though just a moment ago you could clearly see the end of this corridor you now cannot and so you are overtaken by fear. The absence of sight injects a heightened state of panic and you are probably blindly running towards that exit you could see just moments prior. What is it about the color black that convinces us of impending doom? In this case we could certainly agree the lack of sight was a contributing factor; but wait a minute, that can’t be the only reason why.

Many different sites on the internet which discuss the psychology of colors suggest that black is intimidating, unfriendly and approachable because of the power it exudes. You are writing on a white sheet of paper a while and suddenly you become displeased with what is staring back at you. You pick up a black permanent marker and scribble all over the work and rush the marker back and forth until it has consumed everything in sight. Perhaps that ability is power, or perhaps we understand that in this instance; black could overtake everything in its path and that sort of outcome is a power we apply to many things.

When the mind is left with filling in the blanks itself, it tends to reach deep into the emotions we are experiencing. The color black has this ability to cover something and it could also become a barrier. If we are experiencing emotions of fear we are going to assume that something is there that is negative.

In the instance of personal paranormal experiences; many who do claim to have seen a ghost were experiencing numerous emotions associated with their inability to understand what they had just seen. A great number of people fear what they don’t understand. The color black can collaborate this fear and when an individual experiences something this extraordinary—let us say the anomaly they spotted was shades of black—their first reaction is to assume they are in the presence of something evil. But why?

Black is commonly associated with death, evil and mystery as well as elegance, formality and even power. Black is also associated with a fear of the unknown. The black hole is an excellent example of something largely unknown that was given a name with the word ‘black’ in it. Black is also the commonly known color of death. I lost count on how many times I have seen an artist’s interpretation of the grim reaper wearing a black cloak. How many times have you watched a favorite film and the ‘bad guy’ conducting evil were clothed in black? How many comic books feature the evil doers in black? It’s easy to see why we begin to associate everything in a darker shade as evil. Shadow people in the paranormal world are considered evil. A shadow is something we can’t clearly see and therefore it now becomes an unknown. The dark unknown is indeed mysterious and while we are wandering blindly, our emotions take over and are left to assume that danger must be in the lurking shadows.
**(Zep 1:15 ) That day is a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of wasteness and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness.
Even in the bible, the presence of black is associated with evil, and trouble. In Prov 20:20 we see this reference to cursing of thy father or thy mother which rendered you out in obscure darkness. Certainly we don’t want to live out our days without as much as a lamp to guide us in the dark night; otherwise we are accursed in depressive mourning. I myself have used the lamping of darkness as a pivotal point in a sonnet “When in the good night,” yelled an old friend, “a demon would come and tell me a story. I knew to scribe in this direction because the common belief and relation. If I could suspend my audience in this darkness, they would expect that a demon would show and what took place thereafter would entwine with what we believe psychologically with the color black and darkness. Many authors and poets like me have scribed in this same direction and of course, our Holy Bible using the references to lead us away from sin.

Black is also elegant, and not really evil. How many times have you gone to a dinner date in that sleek, well-fitting black dress? Black is that one color we can wear that kind of distracts perception a little. I don’t know how many times I have personally worn black to deceive the onlookers into thinking I may have lost about 5 pounds. Not only can it be elegant but it can also give out this look of one in power. It’s a rather intimidating color that indicates strength and even discipline. It can almost appear to conceal emotions that give the person adorned in it a step up in superiority.

Though we want to believe that good things are white and bad things are black, they are really just a color. They are extremes at either end of the spectrum and therefore come with extreme perceptions by any onlooker. We see white and we instantly think of the angels in heaven. We see black and think about the demons of hell. Perhaps we forget somewhere that if we saw without emotion, we could clearly see.

Again we’re in the corridor and those lights are out. We know that moments before we could see the end, but our sight has been taken away from us. We are in a state of panic and our minds are manifesting all kinds of evil and unclean thoughts. We reach out, and we feel the wall and we can either press on forward consciously knowing the exit was there, or we can stand still in that darkness and bide by our own fears. If we remain in idle then we will never make progress, but if we set our emotions aside and walk through that black corridor we will then reach the exit and open a door to understanding. The same can be said about our inability to see past our emotions associated with certain objects, colors, and so forth.

Do not let colors prison your thoughts and beliefs. Something black could be pure and something white could be the wolf in sheep’s clothing. We must adopt the acceptance of seeing something for what it really is beyond the confinements of temporary irrationality coupled with fear driven by emotion. I encourage you to spend a little time researching the psychology of colors. You will enjoy opening these doors of understanding how our mind associates what it does to specific colors. I will conclude with my poem (to keep with the theme of black entitled Despondency in Passing:

“When in the good night,” yelled an old friend,
“a demon would come and tell me a story.
Fables, perhaps!” O’er and down he’d scend
while rehearsing the day he wandered the corrie –
“its sickness!” he claimed as slowly he sunk
“the gibberish I sing that you long to hear
and the darkness within that lent you that tear.”
Then just in that moment raised a loud clunk.
The spirits had come to warn me of morrow –
The general moment which felt like implosions
when off of that couch I followed the motions,
but this is, now- the bereavement in convulsions,
the backlash lived through the years in commotions,
I’m mourning you now as large as the oceans.

 

Beginning quote cited from source:
*Cherry, K. (n.d.). Color Psychology – Black. Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://psychology.about.com/od/sensationandperception/a/color_black.htm
Bible quote cited from source:
**Color Black in Scripture Bible – Is black the color of sin? (n.d.). Retrieved July 20, 2015, from http://dentonpbc.org/color_black.htm
[For further reading, I recommend some of these links below]
http://www.empower-yourself-with-color-psychology.com/color-black.html
http://www.color-wheel-pro.com/color-meaning.html
http://paranormal.about.com/od/shadowpeople/a/Not-All-Shadow-People-Are-Scary.htm –

Jun 10

A deeper look into personal paranormal experiences.

Screenshot_1When we hear about personal experiences with the paranormal, we typically dismiss the claims or consider the shared stories as fictitious. It’s hard to truly believe the unbelievable if we hadn’t experienced the event ourselves—if you don’t see it for yourself then you may think it probably isn’t—isn’t it funny how we can dismiss a personal experience so quickly yet we can accept the fable of a popular television show? So what does it take to begin offering proof of our experiences? It can be easily argued (or rather debated) that each and every personal event is indeed individualized and therefore would render or even deem the this quest as nearly impossible; however, whatever obstacle that should manifest itself in our path should in no way disable our ability to press forward.

For this article; I will use my own personal experience (in which you can read in full here: Spirits & Hauntings) as a way to understand a personal experience first-hand.

We will start with acknowledging that while this incident had occurred, I was nearing 14 years old. It should be acknowledged that an adolescent female at age 14 is experiencing sadness and depression. In my case I was not only anxious, I had several bouts of manic depression coupled with A.D.H.D. and experienced mood swings on occasion. (It is important to fully understand the mental stability of the subject with the personal experiences so we can better understand the situation in completion.) During this time I was in psychotherapy as an attempt to handle the recent divorce proceedings between my parents. I will also state that at this time in my life, I wasn’t taking any medication outside of Tylenol for headache, nor was I using any recreational drugs.

We now have established that in this part of my life, I was undergoing a lot of emotion due in large to the separation of my mother and father. We can also understand that I was not only emotional, but struggling with bouts of depression as well as struggling with hyperactive issues associated with A.D.H.D. without it being medically controlled.

Next, we will consider the elements of the location. Port Byron is a village located in Cayuga County in upstate New York. The village is in the town of Mentz and is just north of Auburn. It is estimated that Port Byron in the year of 1825 became a port for the Erie Canal until the canal’s route was changed in 1856 which then the village was considered a ‘railroad’ town. The village plays host to the Owasco Outlet which flows northward from Owasco Lake to the Seneca River. The DEC has reported evidence of phosphorous in the Owasco lake and outlet. Recreational uses in Owasco Lake are affected by bacteriological contamination along the north shore and by excessive growth of aquatic vegetation and algae in other parts of the lake, particularly its southern end. The sources of bacteria include wildlife and waterfowl, agricultural runoff and to a lesser extent residential septic systems. * see http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/44965.html

In some cases; phosphorous overconsumption can affect the brain, personality and actions. It has also been stated that an individual with phosphorous overconsumption have vivid visualizations, overactive working mind, may believe to experience visits from angels and spirits, and in some cases, phosphorous has been linked to ESP, dreams, mediumship sensory impulsion and other purported strange phenomena. * see http://calypso53.com/jensen/phosphorus.html also https://books.google.com/books… *

We can begin to speculate that the presence of phosphorous has played a major part in this instance. Many theorists have cited other elements such as quartz and limestone as directly linked to incidents in which a spectre, a sensitive, and other contributing facets of personal paranormal experiences are involved.

fog-1If you had read my original experience that I linked you to at the beginning of the article; you would have learned that these events felt very real. There was no doubt in my mind that what I had experienced was very real—as real as someone reaching out and physically touching my arm. You would have as well learned that at some point while swimming in the Owasco Outlet, I had nearly drowned. We shall now go over briefly what our minds could do if we think we’re going to expire.

Perception is a largely overlooked tool of the human mind. In moments of panic and anxiety; we can cast out thought forms that seem incredibly real. For example: I mention that I had a belief that I was going to expire while submerged in this river and at the exact moment, I had a life-recess. In this moment of electrified and heightened fear, I was somehow pulled loose from the small mouth of the underwater opening. (Or so it had appeared) * for education on the powers of our mind, follow these links: http://www.pickthebrain.com/…/mental-superpowers-how-to-un…/ and here https://www.psychologytoday.com/…/your-mind-has-extraordina… I could make an argument suggesting that somehow, the spectre of this since deceased boy had freed me from certain demise; Or I could make an argument that while my mind thought it was going to die, it manifested temporarily something that pulled me free from the enclosure. Proving either side of this argument is indeed near impossible though we can speculate that a number of things that are more rational to accept were the case.

At the end of my original experience; I go on to discuss actually seeing briefly the apparition of the boy. In my own personal view as I look back now with a level mind and an overall calmness, I question whether or not my subconscious had somehow picked up on energy left behind by the boy who drowned. Did any sensitive part of my mind draw on the energy the boy must have released into the area when he met his demise all those years before? We have proof of phosphorous as well as an existence of a prior drowning incident coupled with the risen emotions and struggles that I had underwent at that stage in my life. Though bits of the aforementioned are personal facts of me during my teenaged adolescence; my approach with this personal experience is to begin to offer data towards studies of personal paranormal experiences.

It is of my belief and opinion that on that day in the Owasco Outlet, I did in fact pick up on the energy left behind from the Owasco Outlet’s former victim and somehow manifested him solely by the power of mind. Perhaps I am entirely incorrect; I however offer this evidence to you and leave you, the readers and researchers and free thinkers to decide for yourselves.

May 25

Building A Logical Argument

Latest posts by Sara Owens (see all)

tumblr_msd5paENQL1s6bgx2o1_1280We always say in order to move the fringe sciences forward we must always look to the logical first. In researching ways to do this I found this simple explanation for building logical arguments.

When people say “Let’s be logical” about a given situation or problem, they usually mean “Let’s follow these steps:”

1. Figure out what we know to be true.
2. Spend some time thinking about it.
3. Determine the best course of action.

In logical terms, this three-step process involves building a logical argument. An argument contains a set of premises at the beginning and a conclusion at the end. In many cases, the premises and the conclusion will be linked by a series of intermediate steps. In the following sections, these steps are discussed in the order that you’re likely to encounter them.

Generating premises

The premesis are the facts of the matter: The statements that you know (or strongly believe) to be true. In many situations, writing down a set of premises is a great first step to problem solving.
For example, suppose you’re a school board member trying to decide whether to endorse the construction of a new school that would open in September. Everyone is very excited about the project, but you make some phone calls and piece together your facts, or premises.

Premises:

The funds for the project won’t be available until March.
The construction company won’t begin work until they receive payment.
The entire project will take at least eight months to complete.
So far, you only have a set of premises. But when you put them together, you’re closer to the final product — your logical argument. In the next section, you’ll discover how to combine the premises together.

Bridging the gap with intermediate steps

Sometimes an argument is just a set of premises followed by a conclusion. In many cases, however, an argument also includes intermediate steps that show how the premises lead incrementally to that conclusion.
Using the school construction example from the previous section, you may want to spell things out like this:

According to the premises, we won’t be able to pay the construction company until March, so they won’t be done until at least eight months later, which is November. But, school begins in September. Therefore. . .

The word therefore indicates a conclusion and is the beginning of the final step.

Forming a conclusion

The conclusion is the outcome of your argument. If you’ve written the intermediate steps in a clear progression, the conclusion should be fairly obvious. For the school construction example, here it is:

Conclusion:

The building won’t be complete before school begins.
If the conclusion isn’t obvious or doesn’t make sense, something may be wrong with your argument. In some cases, an argument may not be valid. In others, you may have missing premises that you’ll need to add.

Deciding if the argument is valid

After you’ve built an argument, you need to be able to decide if it’s valid, which is to say if it’s a good argument.
To test an argument’s validity, assume that all of the premises are true and then see if the conclusion follows automatically from them. If the conclusion automatically follows, you know it’s a valid argument. If not, the argument is invalid.

Understanding enthymemes

The school construction example argument may seem valid, but you also may have a few doubts. For example, if another source of funding became available, the construction company may start earlier and perhaps finish by September. Thus, the argument has a hidden premise called an enthymeme (pronounced EN-thi-meem), as follows:

There is no other source of funds for the project.

Logical arguments about real-world situations (in contrast to mathematical or scientific arguments) almost always have enthymemes. So, the clearer you become about the enthymemes hidden in an argument, the better chance you have of making sure your argument is valid.

How can we apply this to the paranormal?

Example:
You are alone in the house and hear a noise in the attic.

Premises:
You have been home all day.
There are no other people in the house.
There is only one entrance to the attic which is locked and you have the only key.

Intermediate Steps:
You are alone in the the house. No person could be in the attic because the only door is locked and you have the only key. Therefore……..

Conclusion:
There cannot be a living person in the attic making noise, therefore it must be a spirit.

Is this a valid argument?

What about the enthymeme? Could something other than a living person or a spirit be making the noises? What about animals, an open window or hole allowing wind to come in and move things around?

At this point our argument is not valid because when we look at the enthymeme our conclusion that it is a spirit does not automatically follow the premesis. At this point we must do more digging and investigation to either prove or disprove the enthymeme.

If we follow these steps we can separate what is mundane from what may be paranormal in nature. In this way we become more credible when we do present situations where our conclusion does not have a mundane reason since we can show that we followed logical steps to get to our conclusion.

http://www.dummies.com/…/co…/building-logical-arguments.html

Apr 20

How do we verify an honest psychic?

boyahI would like to approach this question “how do we verify and find an honest psychic.”

My first approach would be to research the psychic in question. If they are legit and practicing, chances are they have feedback someplace. In the the world of the internet; anything is searchable, even the credibility of psychics. The pricing should be something that makes sense, and it should be obvious to you if the asking price is obscene. This site suggests these prices (and they make sense to me) http://www.bestpsychicdirectory.com/pcost.html if someone is asking $150 for a few moments, then that’s obviously a scam. Another approach would be to meet them in person. Anyone can be anything they want behind a computer and when it comes to money, and more importantly … the answers about our loves ones, or who is following ect. we need a little more validity than going on blind faith alone. Careful is smart!

Here is another site which boasts to have a listing of nothing but certified psychics in its database (note: always do your own research, even if you locate a psychic through a list such as this one) http://international-certification-psychics.org/

Another smart approach is to reach out to some local paranormal teams. Most people in the paranormal field will recommend an honest psychic, and chances are that the teams have worked with someone in the past who is legit and can therefore direct you to him or her.

Finally: when it does come down to money, do not judge a psychic because he or she is asking for payment. These people use their own personal energy to assist you as well as their time. They have families that they have to look after and bills to pay. It’s kind of like a doctor … You go see your family physician when someone has the flu symptoms and happily pay for those services. We seek a psychic when we need assistance with some answers that they can provide, this should make us happy and in turn; pay for those services. Sometimes a psychic may assist you for free! This doesn’t make them any less gifted; this makes them very kind and giving!

note: You could also ask the psychic to provide you with some references, but always remain skeptical. Listen to your instincts, we all have a little touch of abilities ourselves. If they feel right, and everything feels as it should be then it probably is.

Mar 17

Cambridge In Colour

Latest posts by Stephanie Morris (see all)

Hi I’m a new member of the Photography Team. I believe ALL Investigators or anyone holding a camera should know the Basics. Of course more is expected of the Photo Team but I simply wanted to give the group a good reference page for Photography. It has free tutorials and many good articles on things such as “circles of confusion” and other Depth of Field topics and DOF is very important in Spirit Photography (or any photography) and is simply one example of what this page has to offer.

www.cambridgeincolour.com/

Jan 28

Education and Resources: Definition of Ectoplasm

r2by Virginia Carraway Stark

Ectoplasm is referenced in many paranoral cases as a sign of activity or even offered up as evidence. But what exactly is meant by ‘ectoplasm’. The word ectoplasm comes from the Greek word ‘ektos’ which means ‘ouside’. It references the idea that ectoplasm is a substance that comes from a place, time, dimension or spiritual plain other than our own. The second part: ‘plasm’ is a Greek stem word that simply means, ‘made or formed’. So the word ectoplasm simply means something that is made outside of where we all reside.

Originally the word was coined by a spiritualist from the 19th century named Charles Richet. He used it to describe a white viscous substance that was said to be excreted from the mouth, nose and eyes of mediums who were in trances and were allegedly channeling spirits of the dead. Nearly all such cases of alleged ectoplasm from spiritualists were debunked. The stuff that resembled mucus was proved to be made from various substances such as potato starch, egg whites and gelatin as well as soap for a frothy effect. The substances were regurgitated by the ‘medium’ and often pressed through cheesecloth to give it its distinctive texture. Gustav Geley, a researcher of psychic phenomenon, described ectoplasm as being, ‘very variable in appearance, being sometimes vaporous, sometimes a plastic paste, sometimes a bundle of fine threads, or a membrane with swellings or fringes, or a fine fabric-like tissue’.

r1Obviously from Geley’s description, ectoplasm is any substance that anyone could claim to have excreted during a trance and is far from scientific verification of any sort of paranormal phenomenon. Charlatans in the 19th century put the idea of ectoplasm into the world and in the 20th century it was picked up by books and movies as a sensational way to show visually that something spiritual was happening. This has led to it being accepted as a part of the paranormal world despite any definitive proof from reputable sources.

Sources:

Gordon, Stein (1993). Encyclopedia of Hoaxes
Published by Gale Group
ISBN: 0-8103-8414-0

“Ectoplasm.”
Glossary of Key Words Frequently Used in Parapsychology

Wikipedia

Jan 28

Education and Resources: What is a Medium?

grPeople use the word ‘Medium’ interchangeably with ‘Psychic’, is there a difference?

While a Medium is consisdered to be psychic a pscyhic is not necessarily also a Medium. Psychic is a blanket term that can be used to describe a wide range of extra perceptions or abilities that are considered outside the norms of the human population. Being a Medium is a subsect of psychic abilities: the alleged ability to contact and/or channel the dead.

 

Simply put a Medium is someone who attains their knowledge and information from dead spirits. Mediums have claimed to be a bridge between the living and the dead for a long time, in fact there are stories from the old testament that talk about Mediums contacting the spirits of the deceased. In the 19th century a revival in spiritualism lead to an enormous upsurge in Mediums. People of all classes and walks of life held seances and claimed to witness tables shaking, ectoplasm being excreted and things flying around the room. Rapping on tables or walls that appeared to come from no known source often answered the querents questions or the Medium would channel the spirits and answer questions directly.

Whether or not there were legitimate Mediums amongst the all the showmanship is a matter for debate. In the early 20th century the tactics and tricks of Mediums were exposed but just because many of the Mediums were debunked does not prove that they were all charlatans.

To this day you can find advertisements for Mediums that many people fervently believe in. They claim that the Mediums speak with the voices of their deceased loved ones and have information that would be impossible for the Medium to know on their own. As a result of the large amount of fraud committed in the 19th century Mediums do not have the best reputation but despite that they persist as a wing of the psychic community.

Sources:

Gordon, Stein (1993). Encyclopedia of Hoaxes
Published by Gale Group
ISBN: 0-8103-8414-0

pagan.wiccan.about.com

wikipedia

Jan 28

Starting Your Own Paranormal Research Group

by Virginia Carraway Stark

y1

Don’t jump into this with both feet. Realize that there are serious legal ramifications to any claims you make and that you have to educate yourself before you get going.

It is essential to make sure that anyone involved with your team signs waivers and that you have permission to do research or investigation wherever you choose to start searching for proof of the paranormal. You need to find out what your local laws are. Each country and state has different rules for any sort of investigator. In some places you must even obtain a license before claiming you are a paranormal investigator. Anyone involved in your investigation must also meet this criteria and must sign legal waivers.

Find out if you need and/or qualify for insurance in your area. Have you considered what happens if something goes wrong? What if you or someone else hurts themselves and is unable to return to their regular job and life? Practice care and concern for yourself and for the people who enter this partnership with you.

y2Once you find out what is legally required of you and your group, start filling out paperwork. Be prepared that paperwork can take time and there are often fees that accompany it. This step cannot be skipped and you must follow these rules in order to start your own group.

Step Two: Figure out who is going to be doing this with you.

You will need to have people to watch your back and to know where you are. It isn’t so much a worry over being eaten by a ghost that is a concern as possible interactions with other humans, animals both domestic and wild and being in rickety, isolated and decrepit locations where it is easy to get injured.

Make sure that the people who you team up with are people you can work with during tense situations. Decide if you really trust them. It’s not enough to think they are cool, you are relying on these people to be legally and ethically responsible as well as entertaining during long nights investigating. Find out if you need to do criminal background checks to qualify for licensing or insurance requirements and make sure that everyone is eligible to work with you before committing to working together.

Choose people with skills that will be helpful in your research. Do the people you plan on working with have any education or verifiable dealings with the paranormal? Are they diligent and scientific in their approach? Do you trust them to only report truthful evidence and not seek out drama?

Once you have figured out what skills everyone can contribute to the group, check also to en-certain that you have a well rounded set of people. Are you all active and fit? If not, are you prepared to take measures to help anyone with any special physical needs?

Does anyone in your group require medication? Make sure that their medication can be safely administered on site or that they are not ‘field’ agents. Is anyone a diabetic? Have any allergies? As a group your health and well-being depends on all the members being taken care of and you need to know the limitations of your members as well as their strengths.

Rules

Every group needs rules. Before you start investigating your group must come to an agreement on the rules and agree to obey them to the best of their ability. These rules are for safety but they are also to keep things working smoothly. Set up a chain of command so that someone who knows the legal ramifications has the final say in whether your group should proceed with any given action. These rules should be based off your groups dynamics, skill sets and the laws of your region. If you cannot agree to the rules as a group you are not a working research group. Work out these disagreements before going out in the field and acting unprofessional or even dangerous. These rules will determine your clients impression of your group and your professionalism will determine whether you get recommended to other clients or repeat clientele.

First Aid

You need to really think about first aid and the possibility that someone may get injured. It’s a good idea if at least one member of your team be qualified in first aid but it is a better idea if everyone takes a basic first aid course. One of the reasons it’s a good idea for everyone to be trained in first aid is because it is a possibility that your first aid attendant may be injured and no one in the group may know how to take care of them and prevent further injury or even death. Have a first aid kit and keep it somewhere accessible. Keep access to a cellphone or radio and be able to call for help if the worst should happen.

Assemble Your Equipment

You should have done enough research at this point to know what equipment you are going to require and what you can afford. Once you have all of this together it’s time to…

Get the Word Out

Your group is all ready to go, now you just need some places to investigate! Maybe you already know of some likely haunted locations. If you have permission to go to these locations then start there! Otherwise it might be an idea to take out an advertisement and start a web page.

Web pages are great because there is plenty of space for you to detail the particulars of your group, your qualifications and backgrounds so that someone who might be interested and need assistance will have an idea of who they are contacting. Be honest if you are new to the paranormal field or if this is your first time investigating. People will be more forgiving of any mistakes you may make if you let them know that your team is just starting out.

Network With Other Teams

Your team doesn’t have the answer to every problem and some clients may be difficult to work with due to personality clashes. Don’t try to do it all yourself, talk to other teams if you don’t know the answers and ask for help if you think you’re in over your head. The National Paranormal Society is a great place to meet with other professionals and to learn from each others experiences. You can even advertise your group with them.

Jan 15

Some activities that convinces us our location is haunted.

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We have covered everything from Indian burial grounds to deep research on a location these past few days, and now we want to look at a ton ten lost I have compiled of what it is which occurs that gives us no choice (or so we think) to declare a location haunted.

#10 you’ve felt somebody tap on your shoulder when nobody is there.

How many of us can confirm that we have at least once had this sensation? It isn’t something that often happens, but we can all agree here at N.P.S. (most of us for argument’s sake) that we have walked into a home or a location where something invisible has tapped us on the shoulder. This is mostly a personal experience and can’t be presented as scientific proof, but rather … personal.

#9 furniture has rearranged itself

Y’know … it’s most likely not happening. There are hardcore theorists who will throw down hands o’er this and then there are people like me who kind of know better. It’s safe to say it’s really unlikely you will come upon a box spring hovering three feet in the air.

#8 People have died in the house and/or location.

This is not a truth. It’s widely believed that is somebody has died at a location, and then it must be haunted. Most homes have seen death or tragedy in some form or another and will not have any activity whatsoever that is considered as a ‘haunting.’

#7 you hear strange sounds more commonly during certain seasons.

Again, don’t believe it. Wood, steel and other material shrinking or expanding may be the cause of the bumps in the night (especially during the fall, or spring seasons.)

#6 you suddenly smell the perfume of a loved one.

Just like the sensation of the shoulder tapping, the presence of a possible haunting is as simple as smelling perfume of a loved one whom has since passed. People have also smelled cigarette or cigar smoke in a home where nobody smokes. These instances could very well be a great reason to believe there is a haunting.

#5 you had a frightening experience in a basement, attic, or crawl space.

Reports of frightening experiences taking place in a home are also mostly based around confining and dark locations such as attics, basements, crawl spaces, and closets. This can be attributed to our own human psychological fear of dark and constrictive spaces.

#4 doors slam unaccountably.

Although at 3 A.M. this may scare the living bejesus out of you, it can be easily explained. Our houses sometimes have an air flow (a draft) and the wind can cause a door to slam shut. Just because a door is slamming shut, don’t assume quickly that it’s paranormal. Take the time to see if you can’t find the reason behind it. Most strange encounters can be explained if you take the time.

#3 electronic devices start operating by themselves.

People have had televisions turn themselves on and off. Here’s some logical reasoning behind that: There could be a set “wake-up” timer someone accidentally set. The remote batteries are low and this can sometimes cause it to turn ‘on’ or ‘off.’ The power button on the remote is stuck. A fluorescent lamp inside the same room as the TV is blinking red and causing a sensitive infrared remote sensor to turn the set on and off. (Logic before assumption)

#2 sometimes you hear music from an unknown source.

This has actually happened to me before. There is a medical explanation; a condition known as audible halucinosis could be considered, but here’s an average Joe explanation for you. I continually heard music throughout my house and had searched all over. I nearly gave up when suddenly I walked into my son’s room to find he had accidentally left his laptop on and music was coming through the headphones.

#1 all my pictures I take inside my home have orbs in them.

Unless your orbs look different than the many provided charts of dust, weather, bugs, you only caught something explainable. All the time we are faced with various photographs containing orbs; the person revealing them is pretty convinced because they might have experienced some personal encounters such as the scents or perhaps a sensation of being poked.

Proving something as paranormal is not easy business. It’s easier to disprove the situation, but what we really want is that smoking gun. We want to come out with the extraordinary proof that can’t be discarded as just another explainable blunder.

Jan 15

What led us to research at all?

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Today I would like to cover some reasons why we would research a location. The most practical, and obvious reason is of course because of a client. I however wrote these out not because of team investigations into a location, but for those of us who have had our eye on a location. Certainly our brains assume that a haunted location appears as such, and it has that vibe and appeal.

I am personally guilty of looking through abandoned home photos and assuming it must be haunted. I am also guilty of driving down the road and spotting them. This guilt has led me to look a little deeper into it. It has caused me no peel back the layers of rumors and varied opinions and endless hearsay to reach a more sensible conclusion.

As seekers of truth and education; we would like to know that the thought associated with a photo is more than just that. You may feel drawn to research something specific because of just that. You want to know that your thoughts will become more than just a sneaking suspicion.

We have to first consider that looks can be deceiving. When you begin to research some of the history, you don’t want to feel let down and retire early. Most places may not have that smoking gun waiting for them in the early process of research. You can’t just settle on a location and remain convinced that you are absolutely certain if you have no proof and you can’t convince yourself to retire if after the first layer, you find nothing.

With a little bit of tedious work, devotion and determination … you may discover that your suspicion of the location as spot on. However, if you discover different, I hope you remember to correct others when they consider it as well.

I can’t say it enough, with the right amount of effort, and ability we can do anything. If you feel so strongly the old neighborhood abandoned house is haunted, do your part in researching it. You just may uncover more than you bargained for.

Jan 15

Laws & Acts & Indian Burial Grounds

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The last 3 days I have went o’er several ways to research specific property (houses and area of interest) and what steps we could take to possibly uncover an active site. One of the most incredible thoughts while researching is whether or not the property used to be a burial site. It’s exciting, and almost mesmerizing to assume that perhaps we will stumble upon a home similar to the poltergeist situation. Movies (as I hope you all understand) do have a pinch of truth but they as well have a serving of fiction. They are like a great novel and borrow our imaginations for a while and introduce us to the possibility. I have to admit myself; I have always kind of looked for a pet cemetery and have a little knowledge through several contractors that a local housing project right in my own back yard is located at an old burial ground.

There are federal laws and acts that protect burial sites; they are as follows: There are two important federal acts that have an influence on historic properties and Native American graves. These are the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, as amended 2000, and Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of November 16, 1990 (Link leads to PDF) If you would like to read more about these laws and acts; go here: http://www.portal.state.pa.us/…/federal_laws_and_acts_…/1876

Here’s the deal; there are numerous sacred Indian burial grounds in North America! Not all of them have yet been uncovered, however, if they have been, they are protected by United States law. Now we are starting to see that just maybe that fantastic idea of sacred grounds existing beneath something is real unlikely but there is a scintilla of possibility even still.

We must first assume responsible thought and try to remain productive and rational while researching. Here’s something to chew on slowly—the land you step out onto is old. It’s as old as the day earth came to be. If the sacred grounds are fit for your fancy then you’re in luck because chances are something (or someone’s) cadaver is most likely below your feet or someone has died right there. Think about how far back in time the crucifixion was. Before that; go as far back as when man first appeared which is what … 2900 B.C. (give or take) and I bet it’s even further yet. I think it’s safe to assume something associated with death or a buried cadaver has happened on or around most lands.

What I want you to as well keep in mind while you are on your path of research is respect for the dead. Some of my personal footwork has been done here at home. I have read numerous articles looking at fantastic gravesites that have been since damaged. Some people get so crazy about proof or discovery that they will go as far as destroying someone’s final resting place just to reach their goal. I always say; respect people the way you yourself want respect given to you. If you or someone you loved was on one of these locations, would you really want someone stealing an arm (extreme, but it happens) or kicking in the side of their casket? No, of course you wouldn’t. This is another reason why federal laws are in place.

Now that we have an outlined understanding of the basics, let’s get back to business. We have been researching land/house/whatever and there is a hearsay possibility of sacred Indian burial grounds here. You have now learned that the probability of that is very unlikely. Amid your prior research; you would have uncovered little hints and specs that spell that out and you haven’t yet so perhaps you could rest the thought with a sense of confidence. There would be a record of the sacred land because of the laws attached.

Now, are you wondering if Lakeport did build on top of sacred land? I would like to believe those rumors are false; I have done a little research and intend to do a bit more but in case we assumed it couldn’t happen; I found you this little gem which discusses million dollar houses and a rare Indian burial ground: http://gizmodo.com/rare-indian-burial-ground-quietly-destro…

Bottom line. Through the deeds and the local records and other resources I have thus far taught you about; you ought to be able to pull information in relation to a burial ground because of the laws involved; however, there are as well unmarked, and undiscovered grounds not yet recorded or located but I would like to think you could gather that information if that is a belief of the property. If your suspicions are that it is the final resting place of Native Americans, you ought to go speak with parties in relation (eg) the local tribe and its elders.

As I stated above also; the ground we walk on is as old as the day Earth came to be so there probably is something down there, and that something just may not have a paper trail yet (just … don’t lose sleep over it.) Here’s a link to one bazaar situation of the discovery of 22 skeletons http://www.dailymail.co.uk/…/It-happened-I-32-skeletons-ben…

I will leave you with this next link which takes you to a website known as tv tropes. It kind of explains to you why television-formed ideas are the makeshift of some beliefs http://tvtropes.org/pmwi…/pmwiki.php/Main/IndianBurialGround

Jan 15

Clues & Documents

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A great source of information about the history of the property can be the builder’s plans, although they can often be hard to come by. Some builders (especially with older homes) may have just kept the plans in their heads and modified them when needed. The best place to find them however is in the house itself. Homeowners often kept the plans in the attic, basement of tucked away in a closet somewhere. If your research leads you to past occupants of the house, they might have accidentally taken the plans with them. Sometimes tracking down the heirs or descendants of the former occupants will help to find the drawings. You can also check with the state historical society and see if it has drawing of the house or knows who to contact to get them. Many archives collect plans of architecturally significant buildings or those drawn by noteworthy architects. You might also consider looking in a book of house plans if all else fails. Many older homes were modeled from basic plans.

No house history research is complete without checking out the maps of the neighborhood. As you move backward through records and property changes, a map of the area will help to keep you oriented. As the Register of Deeds (or a related office) for maps that cover the neighborhood, such as surveys that were conducted when roads were widened or moved. In any older town, the roads were changed (especially in residential neighborhoods) at least once to accommodate the coming of automobiles, as opposed to the horse and buggy. The house you are researching may appear as a small dot on the map or may be complete with details on a fire insurance map. It simply depends on what type of map you find.

A great resource is a plat map. When a piece of land is subdivided into streets, blocks or lots, this information gets recorded on a plat map. Originally, this maps were hand-drawn and contained only a few details. Printed maps usually show streets, significant buildings and houses and rural maps will show who owned what plots of land, cemeteries and much more. Plat maps can be found at the office where deeds are filed or usually at the local library.

Many researchers also turn to birds-eye view maps, which are panoramic scenes of cities and towns that show buildings, trees and homes from an overhead vantage point. Thousands of them were created for cities all over American between 1850 and 1900 but they show few details and while striking and beautiful, are only of assistance when dealing with well-known or highly visible locations.

Another type of map, which is quiet useful but only if you location happens to be listed on one, is a Sanborn Map. Beginning in the 1860’s, the Sanborn Fire Insurance Co. created maps to assess the fire hazard of buildings. The maps list construction details, such as windows and doors, and depict the size and shape of the insured structures. They also detail property boundaries and usage for about 12,000 cities and towns in the United States. Check with your local library to see if these types of maps are available in your area.

Biographical Encyclopedias: If the people who lived in the house you are researching were notable in the community for anything, then they may be listed in the county or city biographical encyclopedia. These books were created for communities around 1870 to 1905 and list the accomplishments of local businessmen, bankers and pioneers. Many of them will also contain a portrait of the individual. Again, they are a great resource if you are lucky enough for the occupants of the house you are researching to be listed.

Building Permits: Generally, before owners can make any major changes to their home, they need to obtain a permit from the town’s building department, which may also be called the planning department or code enforcement. These permits record the vital statistics of the home from number of bathrooms to bedrooms, porches, window locations and more. Permits also include the names of the homeowners, when the work was done and the contractors for the job. The information contained in a permit could play an important role in your research and provide clues to hidden aspects of the house, such as the location of former doors or windows — prime suspects when occupants report unexplained chills and drafts.

Photographs: A wonderful addition to your research would be a vintage photo of the house. You can often find photo files at local historical societies, libraries and newspapers. Search under the name of a previous owner or the street address. You might also contact local real estate agencies to see if they have any photos of the house on file. When you visit a library or historical society, it’s always a good idea to bring a current photo of the house with you. It might jog someone’s memory and you can also use the photo for reference when looking through books of house styles.

Hopefully, all of this information will be of use to you and even if only a small part of it assists you in your hunt for the history of house, then has server some purpose. Even if you follow it closely though, there is no guarantee that you will not run into a dead end, even using the material, but I have had good luck with it and hope that you will also. If the ghost in the house can be connected to a person who once lived there, especially by details that were not known before researching the house, then you have a pretty powerful case and excellent evidence of life after death.

Jan 15

Land deeds & Directories

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After curiosity has brought you this far, and without a doubt you have obtained everything you could from the initial steps … you then begin with land deeds and directories. Begin by locating land records in the area and dig in. It is sort of like genealogical research; you start with the present and then work backwards. One of the best places to find some history is through a land deed which can be traced from current owner back to the very first owner. Deeds record the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer and provide information on the seller’s name, marital status, and address (usually just state and town); the buyer’s name and address; price of the property; and a description of the property. In some cases, the deed will also list restrictions for the property such as a ban on farms, sale of alcohol on the premises and in older records, a ban against buyers of a certain race or religion.

Deeds can be both invaluable resources and fascinating reading. Always remember however that a deed records ownership of the property and not the actual house. Most deeds won’t even mention the structures on said property and you may have to use the price of the property to guess whether or not the land was before vacant during the sale. You must as well keep in mind that just because an individual’s name isn’t on the deed, this doesn’t mean that he or she didn’t live there. The location may have been rented out and only by tracking down in other listings you may be able to see who actually occupied the home.

To start by doing this: check through the city directories. These are books that collect the names, addresses and occupations of the people who lived in that city during a specific year. This resource will also offer a reverse directory which allows you to look up addresses of homes and find out their owners as opposed to the other way around. This is indeed a fantastic way to find out the owner or occupant of the home for each successive year to the time it was built. These directories are excellent references for ghost hunters and genealogists alike. Some information you can uncover is as follows: What were the occupant’s names? How long did they reside there? Don’t forget to make copies of any documents you may discover so that you can make reference to them later. If you aren’t able to make a photocopy, you could take the time to write all of it down freehand. Make yourself a timeline and place the information where it ought to go for a quick reference later.

A complication you may stumble upon is a change in a street’s name or the home’s street number. Don’t fret—when these changes came to be, maps and directories typically include the old number as well as new for at least the next year or two. Again, don’t forget to write down all of the street names and numbers for reference.

By now you ought to have a detailed timeline from the city directory. You will now have a fair idea of the recent occupants and an idea if they are still living or not. You could consider mailing the current owner a letter asking information about any strange events, and try to be as professional as possible. Remember to include your telephone member so that they could maybe reply to you. It may be unlikely that they will cooperate, or even respond to you. They may not have experienced a thing, and may not feel as though they have to explain that to you. Moreover; if they have experienced a haunting that is as well experienced and reported by the current occupants, you just may hear from them. If they verify the strange occurrences and will explain that these events occurred during their occupancy, then you have begun building a record of a genuinely haunted location. One unfortunate situation could very well be that the previous family may have actually moved out due to the strange occurrences and may not want to talk about it.

If by chance you aren’t able to speak with former residents; your timeline and occupant list will continue to serve you. You could begin by checking local obituaries for people who previously lived at the location. Libraries will have directories for obituaries and a date they appeared in the newspaper. Once you do locate the obituary, try to find out how the connected individual expired. If that death was eventful, there may as well be a likely story in the general section of the newspaper for that same day. As ghost investigators are mostly aware; murder, suicide, and traumatic deaths can most certainly lead to a location that could become active.

Perhaps the death did involve a murder, a suicide or something questionable—there would then be undoubtedly a filed police report. This means you are in luck, police and coroner reports are public record and can be obtained by anybody. There could be a small fee involved and there may be a waiting period to get a copy of said reports.

By now; you have certainly built up an impressive investigation into a location and ought to feel like you are making some real progress. By all means, keep records of any and all information you come upon and don’t forget that timeline you began. You are well on your way to understanding the chosen location of your inquiry.

Jan 15

Discovery and research into a haunted location.

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Have you ever passed by a location and felt deep within that it must be haunted? Certainly you’ve seen that one house in the neighborhood and thought “I’d really like to investigate that house.” I bet your next thought might be—“but I am not sure if it even has a history, and I don’t know who to ask.” Don’t fret … I was once in question of such steps myself. Your first step is to remember that like us; a place has a past. Sometimes new housing as well has something about it, and it too will have a past. We have all seen Poltergeist (and in no way am I suggesting we ought to refer to television) and the houses being built on top of sacred lands. These circumstances aren’t just film-factory; remember as well local legends and land records will often assist you in uncovering a story.

If you are curious enough, and motivated; grab yourself a notebook, a pencil, and maybe some caffeine. Searching through the past may become tedious but the reward will be well worth it.

Start off simple by checking out what the current (if any) occupants know of the location’s history. You may receive some inaccurate information as the occupants may be unnerved by the strange activity and could shadow their information in a suggestive way. Look into neighbors as well, you may find somebody whom has lived near the location for a long period of time. They can become a great source! An elderly resident who has lived nearby for some 50+ years will most likely remember the past occupants of that property. These locals may also know if there’s any folklore about the place. This sort of information is in no way scientific and could be only partially accurate; however you shouldn’t totally discount it. Folklore could point you in the right path, even if meandering.

After you have begun there; try to see if someone else hasn’t before traced the history of the location in question. Each state has a historic preservation officer who nominates structures that are “significant in American history, architecture, archeology, engineering, and culture” and then of course becomes listed on the National Register of Historic Places. I encourage you to seek out a list of historic buildings in your state by visiting the State Historic Preservation Office.

There are as well other places to look. The Historic American Buildings survey and the Historic American Engineering Record have documented more than 37,000 historic structures and sites since ’93. Their reports contain measured drawings, photographs and historical information, in which is a wealth of information for any ghost researcher whom, is lucky enough to find the location he is checking out included in the survey. The data is made available on microfilm and at the Library of Congress.

You may also find history at your local library or a local newspaper. Many newspapers have a research division as well but they will also charge exorbitant prices for assistance.

After these first important steps, you are well on your way! Remember; you have to have the drive, the energy, and just enough curiosity to begin your research.

 

Oct 01

Sharing Our Mistakes: Networking

Will Crawford

Will Crawford

Department Chair: Resources at Hunter in the Darkness
In 2007 Will left a career in Law Enforcement and quickly found Paranormal Investigations as an avenue to apply learned investigative skill-sets. Co Founding Volunteer Paranormal Investigations of Tennessee he began repeated investigations to some of America’s alleged “Most Haunted” venues and continues to do so with HITD www.hunterinthedarkness.com . Will has experience in Crime/Death Scene processing, numerous State & Federal Interview and Methodical Behavioral courses and currently is a licensed Private Investigator. He’s guest lectured at TALA, penned an article for TAPSPARAMAG and been consulted on two Paranormal books.Despite over a decade of real world Investigative experience Will continues the mindset he is merely a student of the Paranormal and never more.
Will Crawford

Latest posts by Will Crawford (see all)

network

The Ghost Network – Ken Weigand

As we continue our article series on sharing our mistakes, this month we tackle one that is herculean; paranormal team networking. For some reason, there is a general distrust between many paranormal teams. The majority of this distrust is likely associated with the lack of accepted standards. Everyone seems convinced their way is best and everyone else’s take is completely wrong. While NPS Project Endeavor is attempting to establish some base standards there are still times when teams find themselves working along another and while both can have good intentions, the result can be less than satisfying for one or both.

In 2011 we scheduled a trip to Bobby Mackey’s with our sister group from St. Louis. When they had to bow out we found ourselves looking at an increased cost per person to continue with our scheduled investigation. So, when our sister group suggested a stand in Team we were thrilled. They were promptly on time, courteous, paid their share of the costs and generally were nice folks (I’m still friends with them today) but their style and manner was completely different from our own. While we generally had a good investigation there were some complaints on my Team.

We encourage working with different paranormal teams. It gives our team members a chance to observe different techniques and tips for investigating.

The mistake: While we had discussed some basics on the multi team investigation we did not fully explore the preferred Investigative techniques taken by each team. While this can be a minor inconvenience in some large haunts (like a Waverly Hills or Trans Allegheny) it can be compounded in a small haunt location. The major complaint was a shutterbug on the other team that took (probably) 500 flash pictures over the entire nights investigation. While I have no displeasure in how anyone runs their own investigation it was difficult for members of my team to ever develop any night vision with popping flashes every couple of minutes. We preferred more darkness with natural night vision setting in after 15 minutes to grow accustomed to the absence of light. They preferred documenting with hundreds of pictures of flash photography. Who’s to say what’s right or wrong, but probably not a good mix of techniques in a limited space.

Our solution: Now, when we consider working with another group we always come back to this investigation and use it as an example of the subtle yet meaningful differences that teams can have with their techniques. We specifically spell out what we expect and things we don’t accept. First and foremost, we don’t take other teams on private/residential investigations unless they agree to the same criminal background check we run on our own team members (Would you like to be working with Registered Sex Offender? Or allow them into a client’s house under your team name?) For paid for haunts in larger venues, which is where we tend to work with other teams the most, we coordinate a Team Lead on each side to hear, respond and resolve any complaints or differences. Ultimate decision making is left to the Team that placed the original deposit down on the investigation. This has been a tried and trusted method for us and we’ve had no differences that couldn’t be mediated to everyone’s satisfaction within 2-3 minutes

Are there ever times when 1 or 2 of our members work with another team? Absolutely, in fact we encourage working with different paranormal teams. It gives our team members a chance to observe different techniques and tips for investigating. Even if someone returns from working with another team with a “don’t do it this way scenario” it’s still extremely helpful in redefining our own protocols. One of the best things, is it allows our team members to make those connections with others who have that same innate desire to learn more, teach and refine their own craft. In most cases, people from those teams will then tag along on one of our investigations, sharing and learning best practices. This act is the real benefit of networking and is the core purpose whether in the workplace or paranormal field.

Unfortunately, tagging along with a less than refutable team can be troublesome, especially for new investigators. Recently, I was contacted by a “newbie” who went along with a group to a nearby paid for haunted venue (one I’ve been to on a couple of occasions) who had a less than satisfactory evening. Allegedly, when the investigator became uncomfortable and felt spiritually attacked the leader of the Team (who held the key) would not let the investigator leave the premises. Later, the Team lead polled the team members to see if they could bring alcohol for the remainder of the investigation. The tag a long investigator felt very uncomfortable and has since ceased any connection with that particular team. These types of encounters are rare but they do happen. If you’re looking for a team to tag along with then be sure and ask around for a respectable group that has professional integrity and established protocols. If you’re reading this article and looking for a group consider asking a NPS Rep for a suggested group in your area.

Remember, anytime groups work together you have the potential for great rewards with the sharing of the work load, costs and skillsets. While there are occasional missteps and horror stories, most combined investigations can be real training assets if you take the time to explore your similarities and differences beforehand. Strong leadership on both sides and a willingness to work together are all it takes.

Sep 08

Sharing Our Mistakes: Audio

Will Crawford

Will Crawford

Department Chair: Resources at Hunter in the Darkness
In 2007 Will left a career in Law Enforcement and quickly found Paranormal Investigations as an avenue to apply learned investigative skill-sets. Co Founding Volunteer Paranormal Investigations of Tennessee he began repeated investigations to some of America’s alleged “Most Haunted” venues and continues to do so with HITD www.hunterinthedarkness.com . Will has experience in Crime/Death Scene processing, numerous State & Federal Interview and Methodical Behavioral courses and currently is a licensed Private Investigator. He’s guest lectured at TALA, penned an article for TAPSPARAMAG and been consulted on two Paranormal books.Despite over a decade of real world Investigative experience Will continues the mindset he is merely a student of the Paranormal and never more.
Will Crawford

Latest posts by Will Crawford (see all)

ghostly-hitchhikerQuite often, and especially in the paranormal field, we tend to tout our achievements and beat on our chests, “Look where we’re going! Guess what we caught?” It’s a common theme, just check out the NPS Facebook posts with proud investigators displaying their “proof” on a daily basis. These acts are just as common in the workplace as everyone has degrees and achievements plastered up on their wall (I’m a guilty one) or reveling in their latest project’s success. While there is some natural tendency to proclaim ones achievements perhaps it’s time to start taking a different approach with the paranormal. Instead of proclaiming our accolades let’s start sharing our mistakes! This is something I started doing years ago while working in Law Enforcement and discovered it’s a much better learning tool than a classroom environment with someone proclaiming to be a teacher. Most people assimilate, accept and remember someone else’s mistakes with detail and even more so if it is from a friend or equal peer.

So, my upcoming monthly articles will detail some of my biggest mistakes. Hopefully, if you’re reading this you can avoid the pitfalls I stumbled into. This month, I’m going to start with Audio Recorders.

In March of 2009 we were visiting Waverly Hills for the first time and found a quiet section on the second floor for some EVP work. My team co-founder David staked out the North end of the Children’s Auditorium with me on the South end with about 80 feet between us. Each of us had our own audio recorder nearby and it was during this time frame when we caught our best EVP of the night proclaiming “We are here!” When we discovered this EVP we were floored with the sound level, clarity and response to a direst question: Can you give us a sign of your presence?

The mistake: only having one Audio Recorder for each investigator in an oversized room and not syncing the audio recorders at the same time. Instead of “we are here!” It was actually David’s voice from the far side of the room stating “let me grab a chair” on our 2nd audio recorder. Is it possible David’s words could have been manipulated for a different response captured on my audio recorder 80 ft. away? Absolutely! But without a third Audio recorder there was not another source of data to compare and, it took quite a while sifting through the second audio recorder to find that statement for comparison.

Our solution: At this time, my group has agreed to several small requirements for Audio Recording at an investigation site. First, every member present is required to have at least one audio recorder for the duration of the investigation. Second, all Audio recorders are sync’d at the beginning of the investigation and we let them run for the entire investigation, even during breaks and down time. What’s the benefit? Every Audio Recorder has the exact same time. This allows any evidence review to quickly locate a suspected EVP on another’s audio recorder for reclassification, confirmation or even triangulation of where the voice originated from. Also, by leaving the Audio Recorders on and never turning those off you are ALWAYS collecting evidence. It’s amazing how many EVP’s we have found during break time on an investigation and on some cases they are the best EVP’s of the day. If you’re on the property, let the audio keep recording! After all your Audio Recorders (with the same Time) are worked through for evidence collection over lay these Audio logs. Not only will you be able to account for every investigator’s location (which is extremely helpful if you’re running multiple teams in a large haunt venue like Waverly hills) but you’ll be able to trend hot spots and compare EVP’s. If you’d like more info check the Resources Tab for the Documentation Spreadsheet. Finally, once we’re done reviewing, comparing and reclassifying possible evidence we’ll ask a team member who did not participate in the investigation to review the summarized evidence for a clear perspective. They can cue up and review all audio logs for comparison and weigh in on the possible evidence collected from the investigation.

Now, one of the best things about a mistake is discovering a way not to repeat it. While you may avoid the same pitfall your (or in this case my) solution still may not be the best. Recognize there is always a better way to do something. If someone has a better idea or evolved a similar yet superior solution always explore and refine your own. Remember, if we don’t continue to change with the times we become extinct. Then someone might be trying to coax an EVP out of you….

Sep 05

Ethics Week

Ruth Boynton

Ruth Boynton

Asst Director / Asst Webmaster at WI Paranormal Group
Hi, my name is Ruth Boynton. I come from the crazy mid-west (Wisconsin) and found I have always had an interest in the paranormal. It was a night class that I attended at a community technical college a few years ago that gave me the direction I needed. Three years later, I now am co-founder of my own group, WI Paranormal Group. Oh, yes…the instructor has become a consultant with my group!Most nights you can find me cruising through the many images and stories about the paranormal and the world in which we reside. NPS is one of the many places I found myself doing this. I hope I can add to the group with some knowledge and insight; while learning from everyone here.
Ruth Boynton

Latest posts by Ruth Boynton (see all)

By: Ashley Lewis

Ethics Week

Day 1:  Let’s Get Ethical!

This week we will be discussing ethics as they apply to the paranormal community.  First, let’s look at the definition of what ethics are.

Dictionary.com defines ethics as:

1)      A system of moral principles

2)      The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.

3)      Moral principles, as of an individual

4)      The branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions

 

WHETHER YOU ARE a seasoned member of a ghost-hunting group or an occasional investigator who likes to participate around Halloween or at special events, there are rules you must follow. Too often we have heard of ghost-hunting groups that seem to operate without any rules at all, and the result is almost always chaos, bad evidence, sometimes even illegal activity and injury.

Every ghost-hunting group should have a set of bylaws by which it operates, and these should be written down, agreed to, and pledged to by every member of the group. Yes, these investigations can be fun, but they must also be taken seriously and handled professionally – especially when the investigation is in someone’s home.

 

Day 2:  Being Professional

Obtaining permission and permits–Before even considering investigating a claimed haunted location, paranormal investigators need to obtain the required permission and/or permits ahead of time. To enter onto a property without permission is considered trespassing, not to mention disrespectful. Even if a location is abandoned it is still legally owned by someone. Some places require permits before allowing access. Cemeteries after dark are just one example. Be sure to have permit in hand before traipsing through a cemetery after dark. In most cities, cemeteries are closed to the public once the sun sets and violators can be fined or serve jail time.

Professionalism Every paranormal investigator should act in a professional way at all times when dealing with a client. Always be polite and respectful. Horseplay has no place during a paranormal investigation. A paranormal investigation doesn’t start at the time the team arrives at the location. It begins from the moment a client contacts you, to well beyond presenting evidence to the client.

Groups who pride themselves in professionalism often have forms for the client to sign. This could be a release form for permission to share any evidence with the public. It is also good to have references from previous clients. Under no circumstance should a paranormal investigator or paranormal group misrepresent themselves in any way.

When meeting with clients or potential clients, paranormal investigators should dress professionally. This doesn’t necessarily mean suit and tie but don’t come looking like a slob either. Take pride in your appearance because first impressions do matter. Would you want to have some stranger come into your home or place of business that appeared as if this was just something fun to pass the time with? Probably not. Although not required, most paranormal investigation groups have shirts with their logo or group name on them.

Professionalism extends to treating the location with respect. Do not damage property in any way. Also, do not touch any item in the client’s home or business without prior permission. How would you feel if someone came into your place messing with your things?

Being Objective–It is important to stay objective. Although many paranormal investigators are believers in the paranormal, it is important to make sure there are no natural causes for the claims. If every effort has been made to try to find a logical, natural explanation to no avail, then look toward a paranormal explanation.

False Claims–“Thou Shalt Not Fake Evidence.” For those who don’t know, bearing false witness means lying. And if you’re going to falsify, exaggerate, or otherwise alter evidence, then why are you doing ghost investigation? These investigations are about trying to find the truth about a possible haunting as best we can.

So falsifying or exaggerating a sighting, manufacturing EVP, Photo shopping pictures, and other evidence tampering and passing them off as genuine is a ghost hunting mortal sin.  Being in the technology age, it is easier to create effects that would make evidence from a paranormal investigation seem like it actually occurred. Not only is it unprofessional to fake evidence and create hoaxes, but it makes the entire paranormal investigation community look bad. Ghosts and other paranormal phenomena may not always perform on command but this doesn’t mean you should try to create evidence that is misleading.

 

Day 3:   Working with Others such as friends and other teams

Working with your friends is always fun, and there is always room for a little fun in a paranormal investigation, but it is important to keep in mind that you are on location to collect scientific data.

  • Will your friends listen to you when they need to? Will they take you seriously?
  • Does everyone have a reason to be there?
  • Each person on an investigation should have a set role and a set job for that role. No individuals other than trainees on occasion should be there. Not only can having extra individuals potentially contaminate evidence, but they can also be offensive and unprofessional to both living and dead housemates for too many people to be parading through a location.
  • In the end everyone will have a differing opinion on a location. When it comes down to it let your evidence review team make the final call based on what they have.

Different individuals have different methods of investigation. Some will go on a hunch, some will remain purely scientific, others will use occult means to determine a haunting, and still others may possess some level of clairvoyance. As investigators and as a team it is important to respect each others differing methods of evidence collection. One easy way to avoid issues in this arena is to set standards of what is and is not admissible evidence before going on any cases. One of the biggest problems in the paranormal investigation community is talking negatively about other paranormal groups and individual paranormal investigators. This is childish behavior and just makes you and your group appear unprofessional.

Before planning an investigation, find out if any other paranormal investigation groups have investigated the location. Try to contact the paranormal group and listen to their experiences and see if they will show you any evidence they may have.

In return, offer to share any findings with other groups. This could be sharing with a group that previously shared with you or sharing findings with groups that are scheduled to investigate a location you already have. Granted, if the client has asked that the finding not be shared publicly then remind the group you plan to share the information with of that. In fact, it is always good to include a form that either grants or declines the sharing of findings with other groups for the client to sign for legal purposes. When working with other teams it is not the point to be the “winner”. Although we may all have differing investigation methods we all lose when we tear each other apart and claim fake on someone else’s work.

  • If there is something you don’t understand in another team’s work take the time to question what brought them to that conclusion.
  • Inquire on any history that you may not have on the location.
  • If you see an error in evidence take the time to gently explain the error rather than calling fake. We all started out somewhere and by helping an individual better understand a mistake you are making more allies than you are by calling them out as a fake, a fraud, or a noob.

 

Day 4:  Client Confidentiality

Client Evidence & Information–Paranormal evidence is popping up all over the web and on television. Under no circumstance should you ever publicize evidence without the client’s prior permission. This is where a release form comes in handy. This allows the client to grant or deny the right to share with the public any evidence you may have. Some clients do not want their private residence and their belongings shown to the world. Also do not share a private residence’s address or any other personal information with the public. It is your job, as a professional, to respect the rights and privacy of your client. If you publish evidence or information without permission, this may upset the client and make you and/or your group seem unprofessional; not to mention it may land you and your team in legal trouble.  When doing a home investigation the main priority should be for client confidentiality. Due to religious concerns, personal reasons, and simply the fact that some are embarrassed of the idea of paranormal phenomenon many clients will not want their name of information released.

  • One way to avoid releasing any client information even to investigators is to create a case number when the case comes in and there-on refer to the case as such. Only the case manager or other records management individual will have the case information.
  • It is imperative to only intrude into the client’s life as much as the case determines. Needless to say going through their underwear drawer most likely isn’t going to find you any paranormal evidence ( unless you have a pervert ghost)
  • One method that some teams do is to cover or turn around any photos of the family to avoid any contamination. The less interaction investigators have with the family the better in order to avoid any potential contamination. Upon doing client interviews only the case manager and a DVR should be present, and this should not be made available to the rest of the team to allow for as close to a blind investigation as possible.
  • Choose 2-3 investigators to work as a review team for each case in order to lessen the potential for bias. All evidence kept can be reviewed with the team as a whole. ( It is always a good idea to not let everyone review their own evidence to avoid bias )
  • When doing public or historic locations is it difficult if not impossible to keep the team from knowing the history of the location. It is important to remind them however that they are looking for what is happening that day…not what has been reported in the past.

 

Day 5:  Paperwork

  • Paperwork must be present at all investigations whether it be confidentiality statements from locations or homeowners, equipment checklists, and even reports from each investigator. Again, not all homeowners like the idea of everyone knowing that their home is potentially haunted. It is imperative that you complete a confidentiality agreement with each homeowner letting them what they can expect from you, what you expect from them and just what can be shared about any particular location. It is important to note that without this agreement you can find yourself in some rather serious legal trouble.
  • An equipment check should be completed by each investigator on each outing so that all equipment and their defaults if any can be accounted for later in evidence.
  • At the beginning of each investigation I prefer to send each investigator out with a location sheet to complete their personal take on data from moon phase, water in area, general feel of location, etc. If possible have each go in differing directions to cover as much area as possible.
  • At the end of each investigation I also like to do a location sheet so that each investigator can give a personal recount of the evening and anything that may have been odd.
  • Each sheet should be collected and put into evidence by the case manager without any other investigators reading them to avoid any bias.

 

Day 6:  Qualifications and Credentials

  • No degrees in Paranormal Investigating
  • No experts
  • Put simply, none of us are “qualified.” There are no ghost hunting qualifications. There is no apprenticeship, training, course, or degree needed to become a ghost hunter, ghost chaser, paranormal investigator, or skeptical investigator of the paranormal. That is, there are no legitimate courses. Ghost Chasers International and other organizations offer courses that ensure you will become a “Certified Ghost Hunter,” if not certifiable…
  • By this description, no one is “unqualified” either, but some are more unqualified than others. Some professions can be more relevant to the field: physicists can explain the way the natural world works; historians can compare claims of dates, people, and places against records; and electricians can explain strange behavior caused by faulty circuits.

 

Day 7:  Wrapping It Up:  The Ghost Hunters Code

  1. Let them (ghosts & spirits) know they are not forgotten  Let your journey in this field of study be a labor of love.  Remember to be respectful of ghosts & sprits, as they were once people, and still are for that matter.
  2. Never tease, threaten or dare an unseen entity First of all, we want to be taken seriously. Secondly, we are ghost hunters, not bullies. Lastly, we sure don’t want any vindictive entities following us home or worse yet, attacking and hurting us.
  3. Conduct yourself as a professional at all times We always want to present ourselves as one in control. And that of course means around other investigators, victims of a haunting, and even to the ghosts themselves. Self-confidence and control will radiate like a beacon of light and thus serve as a shield of protection.
  4. Never seek out entities on your own A team of two works well and three is the ideal number. Larger groups will need to break up into smaller groups.
  5. Addicting habits can be contradictory to your ghostly pursuits  Examples would be heavy addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, an abnormal sex drive, etc. These things in excess make you vulnerable and susceptible to attack. The attack stems from the entities attraction to your addictions and also because of your weakness. Mind altering substances are particularly enticing to them.
  6. Pay attention to your dreams  Entities will use this relaxed state of mind & body to try and influence or torment it’s targeted victim. Use whatever wording is necessary (according to your own spiritual beliefs) to command such an intrusion to cease. Command it in the holy name of your God or higher power.
  7. Use religious relics & symbols as a protection But only use these if you believe in what they can do. It’s not the item itself that has the power, it’s what it symbolizes according to your faith. That’s what actually gives it its power.
  8. Listen to your instincts and your intuition Draw from the power within. You will find this to be your greatest resource.
  9. Never leave a team member behind, not ever  Commit yourself to the task at hand until it’s done. A combined effort makes the team a whole intricate working structure.
  10. Always consider all aspects of a haunting  Go into an investigation with a kind heart and gracious attitude. But know that most hauntings can be explained. i.e. house settling, furnace noises etc. And as sad as it is, you must also consider the mental & emotional state of the victim as well. Paranoia, delusional aspects and mental illness in general may be a consideration. As a final note; it should also be stated however, that in some cases, an unstable person can actually be open to these types of visitors and or attacks.
  11. Always remember, you are the one in control  You have the body and thus you have the power. It’s really simple, you are in your element. This is your dimension and your reality. Unseen entities are intruders into your space. That is, unless they are invited in or find a way in through your weaknesses. Be strong by curving appetites and living a productive & wholesome life.
  12. Be familiar with all aspects of the supernatural Know well the entities you pursue. Understand them and the things of their world. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more confident you become. Be careful though, not all knowledge is good. Acquire it with a scientific standpoint.
  13. Your best protection is in the life you lead If you are active in ghostly pursuits then evil will cross your path, so be armed. If you are religious, then live your religion. But whether you are or not, you best protection is to live so as to put others first. Good deeds and a love for all life is your greatest protection.
  14. Don’t be afraid to experiment Not everything you try will work. If one attempt or theory fails, keep trying. Simply move on to the next thing on your list. And by all means, have a list.
  15. Do your homework Consider all aspects of an investigation before you go. A preliminary walk through ahead of time is advised. Doing a history check is helpful as well. Anything you can find out ahead of time will be to your advantage.
  16. Never be without outside contact  Make sure others outside your team are aware of where you are when on an assignment or investigation. A cell phone is a must.
  17. Demonic Possession It’s extremely rare that you will ever hear of a full-fledged demonic possession. But it is something that all ghost hunters need to be aware of and briefed on. Full-possession requires an “invitation” in order to gain a foothold. However, there are activities that can be construed as an invitation. i.e. Ouija boards, séances, etc. A person with heavy addictions, sins, depression or someone who is desperately lonely are more apt to be targets. When any type of invitation is construed, whether implied or direct, it may very well be acted upon by such evil entities. Even with all that, it’s still rare that evil will triumph successfully, but it is possible in some cases. Ghost hunters are somewhat susceptible because of the nature of their work.
  18. Lower Level Entities There are other less severe life forms that we need to be aware of as well. They are evil and are here to weaken the population through their influence. Their ultimate goal is to distract us from our life duties and make us as unproductive as possible. These creatures are subtle but very much determined. People that allow themselves to be heavily influenced in this direction are also more prone to demonic possession. This type of entity uses distraction through such things as computers, video games, unwholesome activities, etc. If you miss out on important family outings or you lose your job because you want to stay home and play video games, etc, then they have gained some control. It’s called, lower level possession. Ghost hunters need to avoid this trap at all cost. Refer to codes 5, 6, 11 & 13. And for a good resource, buy a book on Psychic Self-Defense.
  19. Be scientifically minded Strive to prove the existence of ghosts and the afterlife. We as Ghost Hunters cannot simply rely on the word of someone with a particular gift. We need to know for ourselves and we need to document it in our studies.
  20. Rely on your senses Be ever mindful of your own awareness. We are all born with the gift of inspiration. We also have a bell (so to speak) that sounds off when we are in danger. It’s a gift that needs to be focused on. Constantly pay attention to this special ability that we all have. Especially when on an investigation. As you become more aware and in tune, you will be able to better sense ghosts & other types of entities.
  21. Evidence is everything All we really have to show for our hard word is the evidence we collect. So take notes, write up reports, snap pictures, collect EVPs. Keep a log.
  22. Be aware that theories change What is believed to be true today may not be tomorrow. If there’s anything we can depend on, it’s change. What we may know about ghosts today may change tomorrow. We need to embrace credible evidence and use that knowledge to our advantage. So be willing to let go of old theories when need be. If we don’t, we will be left behind.
  23. Expect Results Go into every assignment with an attitude of well defined purpose. Go knowing you have your preliminary research accomplished beforehand and then have a plan to make it all come together. A good investigator is organized and thorough. The right attitude yields results!
  24. It’s okay to be afraid That is, as long as it doesn’t seriously effect the investigation or make you especially vulnerableExcessive fear will make you ineffective as a contributing team member and will make you a target for entities. Excessive fear or anger feeds and empowers curtain types of entities. Enjoy the thrill of the chase and scream if you must. But everything in moderation.
  25. LIVE THE CODE ! It will protect you on your journey and guide you on your quest. Ghost hunting will be one of the most exciting experiences of your life… enjoy!

Sep 05

NPS Ghost Hunting 101 Week

Ruth Boynton

Ruth Boynton

Asst Director / Asst Webmaster at WI Paranormal Group
Hi, my name is Ruth Boynton. I come from the crazy mid-west (Wisconsin) and found I have always had an interest in the paranormal. It was a night class that I attended at a community technical college a few years ago that gave me the direction I needed. Three years later, I now am co-founder of my own group, WI Paranormal Group. Oh, yes…the instructor has become a consultant with my group!Most nights you can find me cruising through the many images and stories about the paranormal and the world in which we reside. NPS is one of the many places I found myself doing this. I hope I can add to the group with some knowledge and insight; while learning from everyone here.
Ruth Boynton

Latest posts by Ruth Boynton (see all)

 By: Ted Milam
G&H101

Day 1: Organizing a Paranormal Investigation Team

This week we are going to discuss the basics of organizing a paranormal investigation team. The info will be just the basics and some pointers that will help your team organize and make a successful Paranormal Organization. A lot of this info has been gathered through trial and error from quite a few teams.

Ok, so you want to organize your own Paranormal Investigation Team. Now what? You might even have a few people that are interested in joining you on this adventure. First, you must realize that organizing a Paranormal Team is a HUGE undertaking. There is a lot more to Paranormal Investigating than walking through a dark old building with a bunch of cameras and fancy equipment…this is only one small step in being a successful Paranormal Investigation team.

The very first thing that is highly recommended for you to do (after you understand the responsibility and huge undertaking this will be) is your team must have 1. A Mission Statement 2. Goals and Objectives. These are extremely important as to not misrepresent your team to the client and public and also stay true to your goals. Remember, in this field, the eyes of the public are not only on you and your team…but you represent the Paranormal Community in whole.

1. Mission Statement

An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your team’s strategy. Don’t underestimate the importance of a mission statement. If you don’t have one, you need to write one using these four essential questions:

* What do we do?

* How do we do it?

* Whom do we do it for?

* What value are we bringing?

2. Goals and Objectives

Make sure you write a goal that is SMART.

Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do. What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished?

Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Usually the entire goal statement is a measure for the project, but there are

usually several short-team or smaller measurements built into the goal. How will you measure whether or not the goal has been reached? (List at least two indicators.)

Achievable: Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slight so that you feel challenged but well enough defined so that you can achieve them. You must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities needed to achieve the goal. Make sure you establish a reasonable timeframe for achieving your goal. Is it possible? Have others done it successfully? Do you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal? Will meeting the goal challenge you without defeating you?

Results-focused: Goals should measure outcomes, not activities. What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result (not activities leading up to the result) of the goal?

Time-bound: Goals should be linked to a timeframe that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal. Without such tension, the goal is unlikely to produce a relevant outcome. What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a special sense of urgency?

Both Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives should be included in a Team Member Packet that is handed out to team members to agree upon and reference.

We will cover the next step in Organizing a Paranormal Investigation Team tomorrow, day 2…Rules and Regulations for your team.

 

Day 2: Rules and Regulations for Your Team and Do’s and Don’ts

Rules and Regulations for your team and Do’s and Don’ts

On day one we discussed how important it is to have a Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives. Another critical part of organizing a Paranormal Investigation team is you must have Rules and Regulations and common sense Do’s and Don’ts. Your Rules and Regulations need to reflect how the conduct of your team is and conduct in front of the public and clients. Here are a few to think about:

1. Never trespass on private property. We only investigate when we have proper permission.

2. No drugs or alcohol will be consumed before or during an investigation.

3. Always investigate in teams of two, never alone. *situation dictates, Lead Investigator’s decision.

4. Respect the place we are investigating, we are their guests.

5. If startled or threatened, calmly walk out to safety. Let others know.

6. Safety is priority. If you find an unsafe area, let everyone know.

7. We will not litter, vandalize, willfully damage, unlawfully take or disrespect other’s property.

8. Tobacco products will only be used in designated areas.

9. Always carry a valid driver’s license or military I.D.

10. Make no assumptions or opinions to the clients until all evidence is reviewed.

11. We will leave the place investigated as we found it (all trash will be picked up).

12. Guest Investigators (or other team’s investigators), friends and family are welcome, but will not be allowed to an investigation without approval.

13. Team members can step down whenever they want without adverse action.

14. _ _PI team members will not use social media outlets to talk negative about other paranormal groups or investigators.

15. _ _PI team members will follow the Paranormal Investigators Confidentiality Agreement and will not release any information without approval from the _ _PI team.

16. Safety is priority at _ _PI. _ _PI and its founders assumes no liability if an injury occurs during an investigation.

17. All evidence will be reviewed in a timely manner. Remember, our clients are trusting us.

18. Clients names, addresses, personal information and evidence gathered during an investigation will only be released with the approval of _ _PI. Pictures and videos can be posted with client’s approval AS LONG AS no information about names and locations are included in them.

19. _ _PI will not use religion or the occult on investigations. We will use a scientific approach and will be unbiased towards any religion or beliefs. If a client requests religion or the occult be used, GWPI will look at this approach on a case by case basis.

 

Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

* Keep an open mind

* Respect the property and client

* Present the paranormal field in a positive way

Remember, the public is watching you.

 

Don’t:

* “dating” or “mutual contact” between team members during an investigation

Look at it like this, if you go to a Doctor’s office and the Doctor is making out with the nurse as you walk in…how does that look?

* Damaging client’s property

* “Befriending” client before or during investigation

There should not be any “smoking and joking” with the client before or during an investigation. Keep a professional and courteous demeanor.

* Trespass or enter a client’s property without verbal and written authorization

* Litter

Most of the Rules and Regulations and Do’s and Don’ts might seem obvious, but remember this is how your team needs to conduct themselves. The Rules and Regulations and Do’s and Don’ts need to reflect the type of Paranormal Investigation team you are covered in your Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives.

On Day 3 we will discuss the next step…Team Member duties and responsibilities.

 

Day 3, Team Member Duties

In the first two days of this week’s topic, we discussed the importance of a Mission Statement, Goals and objectives and Rules, Regulations. The next step is to organize Team Member duties and fill these spots with team members best suited. This gives everyone on the team a job and also is a great way of learning the different and very important aspects of running a successful organization.

 

Lead Investigator:

• Responsible for all aspects of the teams functions

• Makes all final decisions – tech issues, case manager and research questions

• Reporting to the Lead Investigator are the Case Manager, Equipment Tech Manager, Research Specialist and Investigators

 

Case Manager:

• Research of locations known to have paranormal activity

• Obtaining contact information for said locations

• Contacting locations and person of interest to obtain more detailed information

• Written documentation of information

Basically, Case Manager will be the front person in obtaining investigations. They look for sites to investigate, make contact via email or mail and follow up for interview, if possible. If interview or acceptance to investigate is obtained, they will bring information to the Founders and a decision will be made as to whether an investigation will happen and when.

 

Equipment Tech Manager:

• Ensures that the equipment used in any investigation is up to par in what the equipment is used for.

• Continuously looks for ways in which paranormal activity can scientifically be recorded or proven by experimenting with new or classic equipment either in its normal use or in a more creative way.

• Responsible for equipment set up and making sure that the equipment is being used properly by other members which will require training if necessary.

 

Research Specialist:

• Responsible for following up on leads given by any given member, specifically the Case Managers.

• Needs to have a good sense of Web surfing and Library Usage if necessary.

• Information researched will need to be as detailed as possible and notation should be taken of all information obtained.

• Information found will be passed on to the Case Managers and Founders only until a decision is made to investigate or not. If an investigation is to be performed, the details will be given to all members.

 

Investigators:

• Trained in all aspects of an investigation as needed.

• Trained in equipment usage, notation, the paranormal in theory, and investigating procedures.

• Will help the Case Manager, Tech Manager and Researcher when necessary.

 

It is important to have the team member fully understand their position on the team as to avoid confusion. Also, these positions are only for reference, you can fit, mold and name each position as you see fit.

 

Day 4, The Investigation Process

The first three days we discussed organizing your team, now is onto the Investigation process and we will discuss a few important things to consider.

Finding locations to investigate. This can be a bit difficult but you must be willing to get out and research what is considered “haunted” in your area. Your best bet is by word of mouth. By now your friends, family and even co-workers may know that you are a part of a paranormal team and usually this can spark interest. They might give you some leads on a friend’s house or business that is “haunted” or their own property. Another good thing to do, and this has to do with knowing your equipment…practice the investigation process at your own team member’s houses. I would advise to practice investigating at these places first before we go into the next step. You do not want to look like you don’t know what you are doing in public.

If you wish to do a Paranormal Investigation at a business, historical location or a private family home (that you do not know)…use free advertisement such as craigslist and the National Paranormal Society’s team locator. Another thing you can do is perform an internet search at websites such as shadowlands.net. Once you find an address, email address or phone number of the business or historical location, you can do all three things to gain interest from the client…send a letter, email, make a phone call or stop by in person. You must state clearly your intentions in all these avenues and be professional and courteous. You represent the Paranormal Community at this point. Look professional and be professional at all times! For example, wear a collared shirt and nice pants and look “neat”. I also highly suggest writing a “Proposal to Perform a Paranormal Investigation” letter to take with you.

Many times, you might not get an answer back or a flat out “No”. Be courteous and thank them for their time and move on. DO NOT continue to ask them about performing an investigation…and once again, trespassing will get you in trouble.

If you get a “Yes”, make sure the person has the authority to grant you permission on the property…It has to be a Manager, Property Manager, Caretaker, Owner…etc.

After you get the “Yes” The next part is the actual investigation, and needs to be explained fully to them. This is what several teams use:

 

Initial Contact

The client contacts the team via email. The client should leave a statement of what the paranormal experiences are, and a contact number where they can be reached.

A member from the team will contact the client, usually within 24hrs. At this time, an initial phone interview will be conducted. The interview is approximately 34 questions. Not all questions need to be answered and are kept confidential. If an investigation is requested at this time, a date could be set for an investigation, upon availability of the clients and investigators.

Research and Historical Research

The team will ask for the client’s permission to conduct research and historical research on questions gathered and any history of the area and/or buildings associated with the investigation. This is up to the client to approve or request. All information gathered will be covered under the Confidentiality Agreement.

Day of the Investigation

The lead investigators will meet with the clients at the place to be investigated.

Permission to conduct a Paranormal Investigation and Confidentiality Agreement

Two forms will need to be signed before the team will conduct an investigation. Paranormal Investigators Investigation and Confidentiality Agreement form gives the team approval to be on the client’s property for a certain length of time to conduct a paranormal investigation. It also protects the client from any liability in the event of an injury to a team member or a piece of the team’s equipment is damaged. Paranormal Investigators Confidentiality Agreement is a form that gives privacy to the client. The privacy of the client is most important. This form will state the level of information that can be released (if any), by the team, about the client and their case. This is solely the decision of the client and in no way will the team try to persuade the client’s decision.

Once those two forms are signed, an initial walkthrough will be conducted. During the walkthrough, the client can explain what and where the paranormal experiences have occurred. The lead investigators will then take environmental readings, note any safety concerns, and discuss with the client the best areas to place the team’s equipment.

Investigation

This takes from 4 to 6 hours, or however long the client requests. After the investigation is finished, the team will collect their equipment and secure the area if the client is not present. The area will be left in the same condition it was in before the team arrived.

Collection of evidence and review

PI team reviews all potential evidence.

Evidence presentation and recommendations

PI will present the client with any potential evidence. A written report will be included, either printed or in a word document file. Video and audio evidence will be in a media file – DVDrom, MP3, MPG4, AVI etc. We will also include any recommendations, or environmental and safety concerns.

 

One more thing to consider, more often than not, the client will be present with you during an investigation. Professional conduct must be continued during the investigation.

On Day 5, we will discuss probably the most asked about part….equipment.

Investigation process

*client contact/Interaction/finding locations

*Investigation procedure

*research

 

Day 5, Equipment

As you notice, not until day 5 is there any mention of equipment to help you investigate. Is equipment important? Yes it is, but the Organization of your Paranormal Investigation Team and client contact and interaction is much more important than any piece of equipment you bring to an investigation. There are a lot of questions about equipment, but I will go over some things to consider before buying and possibly giving some ideas that will save you a lot of money.

First, the fringe equipment. Ghost Boxes, Oviluses, Echvoxes, kinects, EM pumps, EMF meters and other fringe type of devices…don’t worry about those until you have the basics.

What you should consider bringing:

1. A notepad and pen. It is extremely important to take notes…everything from your interview with the client, research notes, area layout and anything out of the ordinary you might notice before or during your investigation (investigation log).

2. Video camera. Documentation by video is very important. Visual aide will help with pear review and compliments your written documentation. A tip – Camcorders can be found at Pawn

Shops relatively inexpensive…the Pawn Shops are almost giving them away. A good choice is finding a camcorder that is Infrared capable (for all lighting conditions). I will go over my Philosophy about using Infrared and Full Spectrum camcorders on day 7.

3. Audio recorders. Audio recorders are also very important. It will help you keep track of notes when interviewing a client and helps with documentation. Can it catch an EVP? Possible, but I will go over that in my Philosophy on day 7. A good rule is to buy one that has a usb port.

4. Still Picture Camera. Take several pictures throughout your investigation, from initial setup, to environmental readings and continue throughout. It documents what you are doing.

5. Flashlight. Keep a good flashlight with you. You don’t want to be stuck in an unknown “haunted” building without light. It is a must for safety. Small LED flashlights work very well.

6. First Aid Kit. Keep a well-stocked small First Aid Kit within reach. It is best to have it when needed than need it and not have it. Along with a First Aid Kit, please keep a list of emergency numbers with you…and know how to contact Fire/Police/EMS.

A tip – along with Pawn Shops, Large Box Stores such as Wal Mart has almost all of these necessary pieces of equipment.

Now that you have the basics in your equipment kit…on day 6 we will go over some necessary video and audio software that you can use.

Equipment

*what to bring

*budget ideas

 

Day 6, Tech and Free / Inexpensive Software

So you have some audio files that need to download off your audio equipment. Before you download the whole file…listen to the file on the audio device and find the time you want to save. It will save a lot of computer space. Once you have listened and found the times, for example, you want to save a file between 9:30 and 10:30(one minute)…most audio device act just like a mass storage device and is just drag and drop. Now what?

A popular audio editing software is call Audacity. It is free, just search for it on Cnet. Simply import and open your file…select 9:30 to 10:30, select export, open new file and paste the file. Simple.

Now, there are tools in Audacity that can enhance the file in several ways…in my opinion, leave the file original. But that is up to you.

Another popular audio choice is called Wavepad by NHC software. It is also free.

Video editing is a little different, depending what type of video camera you are using. We will talk about mini DV and HDD(hard disk drive) camcorders.

Mini DV is a digital tape similar to a cassette tape but it is digital. It is used frequently by news, tv shows and movies. To get your file off a mini DV camera you will need a capture device such as Dazzle.

HDD cameras act just like mass storage devices and is just a drag and drop. An easy video editing tool is Wavepad video editor by NHC software. It has a free 14 day trial and you will have to register/buy the product after the 14 days, however it is inexpensive. Much like the audio file, just select what you want to save, copy and paste into a new file.

If you have a DVR system, follow your DVR instructions. But generally, they record in what is called H.264. Once you extract the files you want off your DVR (usually this is called backup)…you will need to run the files through a program that converts them from H.264 to Avi. After you have converted the file to Avi, simply run them through Wavepad or whatever video editor you are using.

Please reply with whatever software you are using and any tips and tricks. Once again, I will suggest to keep the files you’re a editing original.

Tomorrow we are going to wrap it all up.

*audio

*video

 

Day 7, Wrapping It All Up

This week we discussed Organizing a Paranormal Investigation team. A few things to remember is to make your Mission Statement as clear and concise as possible. For example, if you are a scientific research based team, religious/occult based, or just trying to prove or disprove a haunting…you need to state so. Please do not mislead your clients and the public about your intentions.

Equipment use. It is a very good idea to know how to use your equipment. Many times false positives will show up and you will be able to better understand them if you know your equipment.

Team participation. Give your team members periodic assignments. One good thing is to have periodic team meetings to discuss current events, future events and to learn. A good way of learning is to have the team research certain paranormal topics, or give them a paranormal quiz.

Client interaction. Professional conduct must be conducted when interacting with clients and out in the public at all times. The public, in general, does not distinguish one team from another…other than we are all “Ghost Hunters” or “Ghost Busters” etc. It is very disappointing to know there are teams that have gotten to “investigate” and have stolen, vandalized or damaged the clients property. Please respect the client and their property. We are their guests.

One final thing, the National Paranormal Society is here to help, please check out our website. There are endless amounts of resources here for you to use…happy hunting everyone.

Sep 05

Paid Haunted Venue

Ruth Boynton

Ruth Boynton

Asst Director / Asst Webmaster at WI Paranormal Group
Hi, my name is Ruth Boynton. I come from the crazy mid-west (Wisconsin) and found I have always had an interest in the paranormal. It was a night class that I attended at a community technical college a few years ago that gave me the direction I needed. Three years later, I now am co-founder of my own group, WI Paranormal Group. Oh, yes…the instructor has become a consultant with my group!Most nights you can find me cruising through the many images and stories about the paranormal and the world in which we reside. NPS is one of the many places I found myself doing this. I hope I can add to the group with some knowledge and insight; while learning from everyone here.
Ruth Boynton

Latest posts by Ruth Boynton (see all)

NPS

Considering the Cost:

For most Paranormal Teams there comes a time when the opportunity or desire to rent an alleged Haunted location outweighs the free investigations in your immediate area. Having been involved in numerous out of state rentals I’ve, unfortunately, seen my fair share of pitfalls with this process. Below are a few guidelines that can help make this a smooth process for you, your team and respectably run event locations.

 

 

Selecting a Location:

Generally, selecting a Pay for Investigation Venue revolves around its proximity to your group and the desire to investigate a particular location. The more notable locations have pre-established reputations and websites to solidify their legitimacy. Soliciting information from fellow paranormal teams that have already investigated at the location can be very helpful. Not only can they confirm the professionalism of the management of the venue but they can add simple yet helpful notes. Ask questions like:

How many investigators did you take & was that too many or not enough for the size of the location?

Were their ample electrical sockets on every floor for equipment use?

 

Projecting the Costs:

On top of the cost of the venue itself consider the added cost of mandatory insurance (required at some venues), travel expenses (gas, hotel & meals) and if your particular investigation date necessitates the need for taking a vacation day or time away from work. Research your costs ahead of time so your team members can get a real idea of the total cost. Some Haunted Venues have partnered with local businesses for reduced rates at Hotels or Restaurants in the local area if you inquire while making the reservation.

 

Selecting a Promotional Event at a Venue:

Many Promotional Paranormal Events will offer packages for large public investigations of haunted locations and the chance to meet “Stars” from Paranormal TV shows. While most of these events run through smoothly and to everyone’s satisfaction there have been a few instances where the promoters of the events literally skip town with the money before the event date. If you opt to attend such an event contact the venue itself and confirm the Promotional Event Company has already scheduled the date of the event with the host location itself. If you make payment to the Promotional Event Company pay by Credit Card-this way if the events are cancelled you have recourse to pursue obtaining your funds back. Even the most credible Promotional Events seems to have a change in the “Star” line up so be forewarned it’s not uncommon for a TV personality/investigator has to drop out at the last moment.

 

Reserving a Date:

Depending on the Reservation Policy of the Haunted Venue its best to solicit numerous potential dates between future attendees before attempting to schedule an investigation. Most haunted venues are rigid when it comes to a reservation date and are not accommodating to a change. Be sure to remind your group to consider birthdays, anniversaries and school holidays prior to committing to an investigation date. Many venues have a “kick off” date for the next year’s reservations with a first come first reserved policy. If there’s a particular venue that reserves in this manner be ready ahead of time and mark your calendar to call in bright and early and get your reservation. Also, be sure and consider the Time of Year and Weather Hazards with an investigation location. Freezing in a drafty building exposed to the elements in late November or roasting in a bar in July only to find the relief of the AC drowns out all EVP sessions can be very infuriating.

 

Payment:

Some of the larger buildings can run in upwards of $500-$1500 for a private investigation at their Haunted Venue. Some locations will require a deposit to secure your reservation while others will mandate payment in full up front. The best policy between friends and team members is to either require full payment up front to the team member securing the reservation or to set a date that the individual must make payment of their portion. I usually recommend setting such a date 45 days before the investigation date. This allows ample time to insure everyone has paid their portion of the cost.

 

Minimum Requirement of Investigators:

Most Haunted Venus requires a 6 or 10 person minimum with the potential to add more investigators for added revenue. The best rule of thumb is to find a number between the bare minimum required and maximum number of investigator you think the venue can sustain without causing cross contamination. Also, having a few stand by investigators in case anyone drops out is never a bad idea. We’ve been in situations where investigators have dropped out at the last second because of legit family emergencies and had nearby, trusted investigators who were eager to step into their slot.

 

After the Reservation Checklist:

___Confirm the date, address and rules for the venue.

___Print 2 receipt copies of your on-line payment or check.

 

Keep one for your records and one copy to take with you to the Location.

___Inquire if there are local Hotels that provide reduced rates for their venue.

___Request a Map/Diagram/Floor plan of the Haunted Venue.

___ Make sure you have a telephone number for the Haunted Venues contact person and be sure and check in with them a few days before the event as a reminder your team in coming on the reserved date.

Sep 05

Basic Interview Tips

Ruth Boynton

Ruth Boynton

Asst Director / Asst Webmaster at WI Paranormal Group
Hi, my name is Ruth Boynton. I come from the crazy mid-west (Wisconsin) and found I have always had an interest in the paranormal. It was a night class that I attended at a community technical college a few years ago that gave me the direction I needed. Three years later, I now am co-founder of my own group, WI Paranormal Group. Oh, yes…the instructor has become a consultant with my group!Most nights you can find me cruising through the many images and stories about the paranormal and the world in which we reside. NPS is one of the many places I found myself doing this. I hope I can add to the group with some knowledge and insight; while learning from everyone here.
Ruth Boynton

Latest posts by Ruth Boynton (see all)

NPS

Verbal skills and effective communication are hallmarks of successful relationships, whether business or personal. Applying these same skills in your Paranormal Interview/EVP Sessions can elevate the chance of capturing a response to your questions. As a former Crisis Intervention Team member and trainer for Law Enforcement I spent a tremendous amount of time speaking with individuals in crisis. These included individuals threatening harm to themselves and others and a successful interview could literally mean the difference between life and death. Using some of those same learned verbal skills I’ve put together a few suggestions to increase your chances during Interview/EVP attempts.

Rule of 5:

The rule of 5 means the maximum words in your question shouldn’t exceed 5 words when possible. Think of it this way, if the best EVP/Disembodied voice you have ever caught is 2-3 words what are the chances they are going to hear more than 2-3 words of your question? Keep it simple! Asking long winded questions is problematic at best. Your questions should be short and to the point.

Why?

I suggest removing questions with the word WHY in them. As mentioned previously, most responses are 1-3 words at best. Asking a why questions invites a long response that you are less likely to capture in full and can be a waste of energy on an attempted response. Focus on answers that can be answered in 1-3 words.

Open Ended Questions:

Cater your questions to as many possible responders as possible. For example, if you’re investigating a location that is allegedly haunted by Dr. Arnold Stevens you would not want to begin with this line of questioning:

“Dr. Stevens are you here?”

It’s certainly a question worth asking (maybe towards the end of your evp session) but you’ll have better chances of a response by catering to any entity/spirit present?

Who’s here with us?    &    What was your occupation?

The first example question has limited the response to ONLY Dr. Stevens.  While the second and third example questions have opened the responders up to anyone present. Which do you think has a better chance of yielding a result?

In 2009, while working a repeat investigation with another group in TN we found ourselves back in the Master bedroom of the allegedly haunted location. The homeowner believed the “man” she, and other family members, had been seeing around the house was the original homeowner and she was able to find (verified) property documents with his full name.  Instead of asking: Peter are you here? I and another investigator chose a line of questioning which added a level of confirmation to the homeowner claims. In our best southern accent we very slowly and respectfully stated:

Like a couple of good Southern gentlemen we’re going to introduce ourselves and hope you’ll do the same. My name’s Will. My names Trey………….…(10 second pause)………………….  What’s your name?

Within 10 seconds we captured, on two separate Audio Recorders, an EVP male voice reply: I’m Peter…

Tone:

Researchers have determined that only 7% of your statements/questions are actually interpreted by the choice of words spoken aloud. Successful interviewers understand it’s not the word chosen; it’s how you say them. Tone (defined as the quality of a person’s voice) can be the difference in any conversation. Time and time again I have witnessed Investigators attempting to ask questions in the same loud monotone voice. People don’t respond positively to such speakers why would anything else?

The best example to convey this is if you ever had a book read to you as a child or if you read to your own children at bedtime can you recall how your voice changes during the story line? Find that voice of connection and utilize it in your questions along with a lower voice. Speaking with a loud voice may allow everyone on the same floor to hear you. But sometimes, speaking softer will actually draw a listener in and force them to focus on your words and not ignore boisterous questions.

Verification of Possible Experiences:

In the event you or any of your team witness a possible manifestation, manipulation of your environment or believe you were touched immediately ask the question regarding the event.

Did you just touch my arm?   Or    Was that you I saw by the fireplace?    Or     Are you making it cold?

If you capture an EVP response verifying your own Personal Experience it lends credibility to the event.

I’ve had two events (in 2009 &2010) where I thought I witnessed a very brief female apparition out of the corner of my eye. The events were so quick I almost waved them off as my imagination. But by quickly asking the questions:  Was that you on the stairs?    Was that you I saw by the pillar?

And capturing two feminine replies stating:   Sure was…. And Yes…. I can now add a small level of credibility to those personal experiences.

Summary:

Now, the above suggestions are basic tips. Essentially they’re Tools in the toolbox! Like a good carpenter is takes time to develop and use your tools effectively. Practice is always a benefit and cannot be stressed enough. Having attended numerous trainings on Interview Techniques the one constant, despite the technique or teacher, was the need to practice. I can still remember repeating Interview techniques over and over again on my long drive to work until I had them as second nature.

Yes, there may be some exceptions to the basic tips, there always are.  But the basics listed above are suggestions worth considering. Try implementing a few into your next investigation and see if you have better results?

Sep 05

Equipment Review: AC5X Infrared Action Camera

Ruth Boynton

Ruth Boynton

Asst Director / Asst Webmaster at WI Paranormal Group
Hi, my name is Ruth Boynton. I come from the crazy mid-west (Wisconsin) and found I have always had an interest in the paranormal. It was a night class that I attended at a community technical college a few years ago that gave me the direction I needed. Three years later, I now am co-founder of my own group, WI Paranormal Group. Oh, yes…the instructor has become a consultant with my group!Most nights you can find me cruising through the many images and stories about the paranormal and the world in which we reside. NPS is one of the many places I found myself doing this. I hope I can add to the group with some knowledge and insight; while learning from everyone here.
Ruth Boynton

Latest posts by Ruth Boynton (see all)

431298_L1

5 MP Resolution 720i HD Video Zoom 4X 64 MB Internal Memory

 

For those seeking a lightweight battery powered Infrared Camera /Video Recorder you might consider the Wildgame AC5X Infrared Camera. Originally developed for outdoor Hunting enthusiast this device is fairly simple to use, rugged for the accidental drop and comes with a variety of mounting choices (as well as a Water Resistant Case). Search on line and you can find Youtube videos showing hunters using this same camera mounted to bows for night hunts. These Cameras are sold at a variety of hunting stores. I purchased mine on line from B&H Photo Video for just over a hundred.

 

Upside:

  1. No Cables, no Fuss! You’re Mobile and so is your Infrared Camera.
  2. Decent Infrared Camera picture (up to 40 ft in total Darkness) that can be attached to your hat, backpack or hand carried with a light weight of less than two pounds.
  3. After activating the Infrared Camera in total or partial darkness the camera will shift to activate 8 built in LED’s. Within 30 seconds the small lighted display will go dark and only a red light is visible as not to ruin your night vision.
  4. Fairly Rugged device- I dropped mine twice from a height of 3 feet on the concrete and it didn’t sustain any damage.

Downside:

  1. Internal Memory on the Camera is worth upgrading. The good news is a 64 Micro SD card will give over 17 hours of recording.
  2. Battery life (Fully Charged) is over an hour in well lit conditions. Battery Life for Darkness or Partial Darkness that activates the LED’s is between 20-25 minutes. So, multiple Batteries are worth considering and that does mean lugging around a few extras on your person. I’ve determined a suitable Replacement Lithium Ion Battery is the Nokia BL-5B (760 mAh). You can purchase these on line for 5-6 dollars and chargers for 9-12 dollars.
  3. While the initial retrieval of images may seem a little difficult, once you remember the pattern it becomes second nature.

Suggestions:

  1. While testing the Camera for low light/no light conditions I realized that the Battery life for the Camera was affected by the heat generated from the activated LED’s. So, while I might get 22-25 minutes in one long run I discovered I could run the camera for 15 minutes, stop recording, and let it cool for 10 minutes and then start up again for another 15+ minute recording. Skip using the Water Resistant case if possible, it heats the camera up when the LED’s are activated.
  2. While the tiny display screen doesn’t put off much light it did deem very bright in total Darkness waiting for it to go dark after 30 seconds. A well placed piece if painters tape removed that annoyance.

www.wildgameinnovations.com/pdf/AC5x%20Camera%20Booklet2010.pdf

AC5X Infrared Action Camera

**** The footage is a camera test only!!!

Sep 05

Pre-Investigation Strategy

Ruth Boynton

Ruth Boynton

Asst Director / Asst Webmaster at WI Paranormal Group
Hi, my name is Ruth Boynton. I come from the crazy mid-west (Wisconsin) and found I have always had an interest in the paranormal. It was a night class that I attended at a community technical college a few years ago that gave me the direction I needed. Three years later, I now am co-founder of my own group, WI Paranormal Group. Oh, yes…the instructor has become a consultant with my group!Most nights you can find me cruising through the many images and stories about the paranormal and the world in which we reside. NPS is one of the many places I found myself doing this. I hope I can add to the group with some knowledge and insight; while learning from everyone here.
Ruth Boynton

Latest posts by Ruth Boynton (see all)

Investigation ~The Necessity of the Pre-Investigation Walk Though~

Information is Power. Sometimes, knowing the slightest sliver of information is the difference between success and failure. The prior knowledge of the Lay of the Land is a formidable piece of information in the right hands. Entire battles and portions of history have been decided simply because Generals and Warlords chose particular locations for their skirmishes to take place. Utilizing their prior knowledge of the area along with intelligence derived from initial scouting to develop a strategy for success. Knowing the Lay of the Land is no different in Paranormal Investigations. The initial walk through of an impending investigation location can be one of the most impactful pieces of intelligence from a time investment and safety perspective for your team. Prior to the first time investigation of a location (Residence, Business, pay-for-venue) every attempt possible should be made for an on-site walk through/inspection with the Client.  This allows the investigator to assess the location, diagram/sketch/map out the floor plans and confirm allegedly areas of activity.

If your Team conducts a pre-investigation walk through/inspection with the client consider adding this basic question:

Is there any history with this property that would pose a health threat to any of my investigators or we should be aware of?

If you don’t ask, or fear this question you need to reconsider your priorities. The ability to help, whether as a first responder in an emergency situation or in the paranormal realm, requires fundamental safety practices to be present. We concede you can’t remove all risks for a Paranormal Investigation, but being informed and aware is the bare minimum of due diligence.

Assessing:

There is such a concern with helping clients that sometimes the very basics of safety and common sense take a backseat. The assessment phase of a walk through should immediately revolve around the safety of Investigators to return the location, followed by safety for your clients. Employees have O.S.H.A. to look out for their interests in the work place; the paranormal investigator has the Team Leads and initial assessment conducted during the walk through. Yes, helping clients is extremely important. But the Health and Safety of your Team should be Priority Number 1!

There are a host of Environmental concerns that should be listed and checked off prior to allowing a full blown investigation. The complete list for consideration would be enormous but please consider the basic issues like:

  • Electrical concerns with exposed wires
  • Extension cords out in the open
  • Nails, screws, missing floorboards or handrails
  • Animals/Pets
  • Mold, Mildew, Odors
  • Poisonous Gases/Sewer Concerns
  • Stairways- uneven runs
  • Hazards with on-going Remodeling
  • Asbestos

 

Deserted/Abandoned Properties:

  • If the property looks deserted or abandoned you need to ask:  WHY is it deserted?
  • Are there any structural Integrity issues?
  • Is the electricity rigged?
  • Is there Asbestos present?

 

Basement & Attics:         (Consider adding Dust Masks to your Equipment Lists)

These areas are often forgotten by owners as areas of concern. Ask direct questions.

  • Does the basement flood?  (mold)
  • Known vermin, bat, other pests including their waste or recent pesticide in the area?
  • Exposed wires, Boiler concerns, etc…

 

Meth Houses: (This is one of my favorite topics and I still have trouble believing this has to be covered.)

I’ve seen a dedicated Team eager to help a client claiming demonic issues who readily admitted the prior tenant (a family member now incarcerated) previously used the same location to make METH. The production of Meth Amphetamine involves several extremely toxic substances that can leach into the surrounding environment (floors, walls, etc) and pose serious health risks to anyone present. These are not issues that can be simply removed or dissipate over time. These by products require professionally trained specialist to isolate, identify, clean and safely render inert. PLEASE– do not investigate locations when you discover it was used, or is still in use, for the production of Meth or other illegal drugs! These Health Risks towards your team members cannot be more extreme.

Client/Owners:

If the walk through is the first face-to-face with a Client take advantage of this time period to assess their state of mind and the state of their environment. Simple deduction and observation may lead you to recognize other elements that may be responsible for the suspected paranormal complaint or you may recognize signs of intense drug or alcohol use that may require the investigation to be halted for Team Member safety concerns. We highly recommend that first time face-to-face client meetings and walk through/Inspections be attend by a minimum of two team members. Also, have predetermined requirements to address and report signs of illegal activity (Drugs, Child Abuse, etc.)

Diagram/Map/Sketch:

If there are not any obvious safety concerns then a diagram of the location is needed. While larger, paid for venues may have detailed diagrams available on their websites residential and small business will not have these available. For such a building or premises the rough diagram/sketch should cover every room, every floor, including all entry/exits, NSEW arrow and basic large furniture. These can quickly be jotted down on a sketch pad, translated to “paint” or other program of your choice. If not readily apparent be sure and ask the client where the fuse box is during the diagram/sketch phase and be sure to add it to your diagram. At this time digital pictures can be taken of each room for use in the pre-investigation meeting (note: these are not in depth photos that should be considered from each corner of the room during the set up of the investigation). Extra copies of the complete diagram should be available during equipment set up to mark where digital (DVR) recorder will be facing and to each investigator to note where audio recorders or hand held devices are placed. Combined with the Documentation Spreadsheet (see separate article) the combination of all this information provides robust and exact equipment placement for evidence review. Let me clarify that we are not advocating the exact measurement of every room, but rough sketches of each room with your notes and observations can be a real asset before and after the actual investigation.

Confirmation:

After assessing the safety concerns and sketching your observations of the investigation location you should confirm you have all the pertinent info collected with the Client. Take time to sit down with the Client and revisit their own accounts to positively identify the areas of reported activity. Take notes and ask for any points of clarification. If possible revisit these particular areas and recount the activity to confirm you have a complete understanding of the alleged activity. Note electrical outlets to utilize for equipment deployment, consider camera angels that allow the widest berth of coverage that include entry/exits into the room.

Conclusion:

Pre-planning, information gathering and strategy are 3 pieces of the Walk Through and Safety Assessment that will protect your Team and speed the equipment set up so your Investigation can move quickly. Two prime examples:

In 2009 while working with another Team I received a call to assist a group of investigators with a possible Paranormal Complaint. Essentially a family member had invited this Paranormal Team to investigate at another Family member’s house where the homeowner was hearing voices. When I pressed for more information the Team Lead eventually stated that the homeowner was depressed, drinking alcohol on a constant basis and was not overly thrilled about his sisters insistence that a Paranormal Team come to his home to investigate. This prompted me to ask more questions and discover that the homeowner was going to be home when the Team was present, likely drinking and had firearms in his household. It’s everyone’s right (of Legal age) to own a firearm and consume alcohol-but to go to someone’s house who did not personally invite you, is depressed, consuming depressants, hearing voices and readily accessible to weapons should be a Red Flag to step back and reassess what’s safe and what may be a dangerous situation. I think if the homeowner personally requested assistance and wasn’t actively drinking at the time of an investigation any Team would be willing to help. However, with the circumstances and facts revealed I politely refused.

In the fall of 2012 we returned to Bobby Mackey’s for a follow up investigation involving some return and some new Investigators. Pulling our Spreadsheet of the previous investigation, diagram map (complete with electrical outlets) we identified the hot spot areas we wished to record. Meeting with the new Investigators we revealed our game plan, determined our camera angles, cord placement, electrical outlet primary use (and a secondary if needed) at our hotel. As soon as we entered Bobby Mackey’s we had a complete DVR Surveillance set up with confirmed camera angles on target and recording in 22 minutes. Even the staff at BM’s stated it was the fastest Equipment set up they had ever witnessed.

Planning and Strategy: Two concepts that will strengthen your future Investigations….

Aug 02

Rounding the Corner…..

Ken Weigand

Ken Weigand

Senior Director / Webmaster at National Paranormal Society
Ken is a graphic designer, web developer and co-founder of One True Paranormal, a para-group in southwest Missouri.
Ken Weigand

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The Abyss by  alexiuss, deviantart.com

The Abyss by alexiuss, deviantart.com

“When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you,” once you gaze into the world of the paranormal it suddenly notices you as well ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

For newbies and first time investigators into the Paranormal there is always an impatient desire to witness a true unexplainable moment of supernatural perplexity. This insatiable curiosity, while at the core of being human, drives so many to ask: what is the best way to witness and capture these events? Eager minds search for teams to join, invest in expensive equipment and look forward, with great zeal, for their chance to dabble in the unknown. But instead of asking how, many need to consider a more meaningful question: do I really want to see what’s on the other side?

For many, tormented or already living with the paranormal, it’s not a choice and never was. Speak with them candidly and you’ll find a mix of those who are just as grateful as you will those that wish they could just turn it off once and for all. But for thrill-seekers who want to have a paranormal experience, many are all too willing to throw caution to the wind all in the name of occult adventure. But just as Friedrich Nietzsche’s infamous quote warns, “When you look into the abyss, the abyss also looks into you,” once you gaze into the world of the paranormal it suddenly notices you as well.

If you (like me) are someone who never was traumatized or gifted with the paranormal, you really don’t realize what you’re getting yourself into. “Rounding the corner” as I call it, and moving past that state of not noticing and not being noticed, places you and your loved ones into a plane of both intrigue and danger. In my extensive travels and networking with several teams and specialists I noted the same 3 types of individuals within the paranormal groups. Group 1 are those who have been traumatized by a paranormal event, often affecting them and their entire family several years ago, who now want to understand and confront their own personal fears. You can say what you want, but I think these folks are pretty fearless. Group 2 are those that claim to be sensitive or have gifts within the realm of the paranormal. They often seek to explore and further their own personal education of the unknown, sometimes helping others along the way. While this group is very important there are, unfortunately, some posers that damage the reputation of the entire group instead of just the individual. Finally there is the third group, regular people (whether they are the average Joe or a legitimate scientist) who have never been a victim, witness or bear any gifts within the realm. This 3rd group, in my opinion, is the fastest growing within the field and the one with the least experience to prepare for what can happen after rounding the corner. Now, to be clear, I’m not saying anyone from the 3rd group shouldn’t pursue their interest, but if you’re in that group you need to recognize the repercussions of what can happen to you and your loved ones. While there is a long list of potential negative affects I’ll keep it very short and break it down into the basics of the physical, mental and the spiritual.

Physical ailments can range from the simple symptoms of an assault (pinch, slap, blow, scratch) that normally are brief and bear no long lasting marks, to something that may attach itself to you, causing disease and serious long lasting health effects. Many investigators report a loss of energy and general feeling of lethargy that may be isolated to just themselves or may spread throughout their entire household. Throw on top the environmental risks associated with stumbling around old buildings (asbestos, mold, etc.) and you have serious potential risks to your physical health.

Mental instability after witnessing a paranormal encounter is rarely talked about but it’s a topic worth considering. It’s one thing to see a single apparition/manifestation or disembodied voice after attending dozens of paranormal investigations (alas, your prize has been found!). It’s another if you’re visiting a friend and suddenly you witness a 8 ft. tall negative entity manifest in their living room and turn its head to look directly at you (Yes, I see you too!) Or find that the disembodied voice now comes just before bedtime when your house is quiet and a symphony of different voices start begging, “Help me!” over and over again. It’s fantastic and rare to witness and capture these types of events on an investigation, but it’s far more frightening when they start to creep in on your everyday Life.

The last, and perhaps most worthy consideration, is the possible damage to one’s spirituality. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Pagan, Atheist…..it doesn’t really matter when you step around the corner and enter the paranormal realm. For many, moments of the unexplained can be a beautiful reconfirmation of their own personal beliefs. Others find their faith tested and lacking. Nothing is more damaging than a loss of one’s faith…….This can be the start of a downward spiral. For some it’s merely a speed bump before they are back to normal. For others, it can be a dark pit of depression and oppression by the negative.

I’m very grateful that the last few years have resulted in many proactive groups and individuals speaking out on the risks of investigating the paranormal. It was something never touched upon when I started to actively investigate with my own team and working with different groups many years ago. The purpose of this article isn’t to dissuade those who want to start investigating, but rather inform them so they can realize that there are risks. Several years ago, I worked with a man who was studying to be a demonologist. He has been studying for several years and would be best described as professional, polite, sharp and studious. One day I asked him if he had any concerns for himself with his own interest and education into the realm of the paranormal. He thought about for a few seconds and said” No, I’ve always been very strong spiritually and I hope and pray that I can continue to keep a positive mindset if I ever encounter something threatening or harmful. I feel like I can take care of myself.” I nodded my head in admiration at a well-crafted answer. He stood there for a moment, contemplating before he added, “But that dark man that keeps waking my 3 year daughter old up at night. Yeah, that bothers me.”

Be careful what you ask for………..you might just get it~

 

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 7 – Wrapping it up – The Ghost Hunters Code

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

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1. Let them (ghosts & spirits) know they are not forgotten  Let your journey in this field of study be a labor of love.  Remember to be respectful of ghosts & sprits, as they were once people, and still are for that matter.

2. Never tease, threaten or dare an unseen entity First of all, we want to be taken seriously. Secondly, we are ghost hunters, not bullies. Lastly, we sure don’t want any vindictive entities following us home or worse yet, attacking and hurting us.

3.  Conduct yourself as a professional at all times We always want to present ourselves as one in control. And that of course means around other investigators, victims of a haunting, and even to the ghosts themselves. Self-confidence and control will radiate like a beacon of light and thus serve as a shield of protection.

4. Never seek out entities on your own A team of two works well and three is the ideal number. Larger groups will need to break up into smaller groups.

5. Addicting habits can be contradictory to your ghostly pursuits  Examples would be heavy addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, an abnormal sex drive, etc. These things in excess make you vulnerable and susceptible to attack. The attack stems from the entities attraction to your addictions and also because of your weakness. Mind altering substances are particularly enticing to them.

6.  Pay attention to your dreams  Entities will use this relaxed state of mind & body to try and influence or torment it’s targeted victim. Use whatever wording is necessary (according to your own spiritual beliefs) to command such an intrusion to cease. Command it in the holy name of your God or higher power.

7.  Use religious relics & symbols as a protection But only use these if you believe in what they can do. It’s not the item itself that has the power, it’s what it symbolizes according to your faith. That’s what actually gives it its power.

8.  Listen to your instincts and your intuition Draw from the power within. You will find this to be your greatest resource.

9.  Never leave a team member behind, not ever  Commit yourself to the task at hand until it’s done. A combined effort makes the team a whole intricate working structure.

10.  Always consider all aspects of a haunting  Go into an investigation with a kind heart and gracious attitude. But know that most hauntings can be explained. i.e. house settling, furnace noises etc. And as sad as it is, you must also consider the mental & emotional state of the victim as well. Paranoia, delusional aspects and mental illness in general may be a consideration. As a final note; it should also be stated however, that in some cases, an unstable person can actually be open to these types of visitors and or attacks.

11.  Always remember, you are the one in control  You have the body and thus you have the power. It’s really simple, you are in your element. This is your dimension and your reality. Unseen entities are intruders into your space. That is, unless they are invited in or find a way in through your weaknesses. Be strong by curving appetites and living a productive & wholesome life.

12.  Be familiar with all aspects of the supernatural Know well the entities you pursue. Understand them and the things of their world. Knowledge is power. The more you know, the more confident you become. Be careful though, not all knowledge is good. Acquire it with a scientific standpoint.

13.  Your best protection is in the life you lead If you are active in ghostly pursuits then evil will cross your path, so be armed. If you are religious, then live your religion. But whether you are or not, you best protection is to live so as to put others first. Good deeds and a love for all life is your greatest protection.

14.  Don’t be afraid to experiment Not everything you try will work. If one attempt or theory fails, keep trying. Simply move on to the next thing on your list. And by all means, have a list.

15.  Do your homework Consider all aspects of an investigation before you go. A preliminary walk through ahead of time is advised. Doing a history check is helpful as well. Anything you can find out ahead of time will be to your advantage.

16.  Never be without outside contact  Make sure others outside your team are aware of where you are when on an assignment or investigation. A cell phone is a must.

17.  Demonic Possession It’s extremely rare that you will ever hear of a full-fledged demonic possession. But it is something that all ghost hunters need to be aware of and briefed on. Full-possession requires an “invitation” in order to gain a foothold. However, there are activities that can be construed as an invitation. i.e. Ouija boards, séances, etc. A person with heavy addictions, sins, depression or someone who is desperately lonely are more apt to be targets. When any type of invitation is construed, whether implied or direct, it may very well be acted upon by such evil entities. Even with all that, it’s still rare that evil will triumph successfully, but it is possible in some cases. Ghost hunters are somewhat susceptible because of the nature of their work.

18.  Lower Level Entities There are other less severe life forms that we need to be aware of as well. They are evil and are here to weaken the population through their influence. Their ultimate goal is to distract us from our life duties and make us as unproductive as possible. These creatures are subtle but very much determined. People that allow themselves to be heavily influenced in this direction are also more prone to demonic possession. This type of entity uses distraction through such things as computers, video games, unwholesome activities, etc. If you miss out on important family outings or you lose your job because you want to stay home and play video games, etc, then they have gained some control. It’s called, lower level possession. Ghost hunters need to avoid this trap at all cost. Refer to codes 5, 6, 11 & 13. And for a good resource, buy a book on Psychic Self-Defense.

19.  Be scientifically minded Strive to prove the existence of ghosts and the afterlife. We as Ghost Hunters cannot simply rely on the word of someone with a particular gift. We need to know for ourselves and we need to document it in our studies.

20.  Rely on your senses Be ever mindful of your own awareness. We are all born with the gift of inspiration. We also have a bell (so to speak) that sounds off when we are in danger. It’s a gift that needs to be focused on. Constantly pay attention to this special ability that we all have. Especially when on an investigation. As you become more aware and in tune, you will be able to better sense ghosts & other types of entities.

21.  Evidence is everything All we really have to show for our hard word is the evidence we collect. So take notes, write up reports, snap pictures, collect EVPs. Keep a log.

22.  Be aware that theories change What is believed to be true today may not be tomorrow. If there’s anything we can depend on, it’s change. What we may know about ghosts today may change tomorrow. We need to embrace credible evidence and use that knowledge to our advantage. So be willing to let go of old theories when need be. If we don’t, we will be left behind.

23.  Expect Results Go into every assignment with an attitude of well defined purpose. Go knowing you have your preliminary research accomplished beforehand and then have a plan to make it all come together. A good investigator is organized and thorough. The right attitude yields results!

24.  It’s okay to be afraid That is, as long as it doesn’t seriously effect the investigation or make you especially vulnerableExcessive fear will make you ineffective as a contributing team member and will make you a target for entities. Excessive fear or anger feeds and empowers curtain types of entities. Enjoy the thrill of the chase and scream if you must. But everything in moderation.

25.  LIVE THE CODE ! It will protect you on your journey and guide you on your quest. Ghost hunting will be one of the most exciting experiences of your life… enjoy!

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 6 – Qualifications & Credentials

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
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  • No degrees in Paranormal Investigating
  • No experts
    • Put simply, none of us are “qualified.” There are no ghost hunting qualifications. There is no apprenticeship, training, course, or degree needed to become a ghost hunter, ghost chaser, paranormal investigator, or skeptical investigator of the paranormal. That is, there are no legitimate courses. Ghost Chasers International and other organizations offer courses that ensure you will become a “Certified Ghost Hunter,” if not certifiable…
    • By this description, no one is “unqualified” either, but some are more unqualified than others. Some professions can be more relevant to the field: physicists can explain the way the natural world works; historians can compare claims of dates, people, and places against records; and electricians can explain strange behavior caused by faulty circuits.

 

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 5 – Paperwork

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

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  • Paperwork must be present at all investigations whether it be confidentiality statements from locations or homeowners, equipment checklists, and even reports from each investigator. Again, not all homeowners like the idea of everyone knowing that their home is potentially haunted. It is imperative that you complete a confidentiality agreement with each homeowner letting them what they can expect from you, what you expect from them and just what can be shared about any particular location. It is important to note that without this agreement you can find yourself in some rather serious legal trouble.
  • An equipment check should be completed by each investigator on each outing so that all equipment and their defaults if any can be accounted for later in evidence.
  • At the beginning of each investigation I prefer to send each investigator out with a location sheet to complete their personal take on data from moon phase, water in area, general feel of location, etc. If possible have each go in differing directions to cover as much area as possible.
  • At the end of each investigation I also like to do a location sheet so that each investigator can give a personal recount of the evening and anything that may have been odd.
  • Each sheet should be collected and put into evidence by the case manager without any other investigators reading them to avoid any bias.

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 4 – Client Confidentiality

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

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Client Evidence & Information–Paranormal evidence is popping up all over the web and on television. Under no circumstance should you ever publicize evidence without the client’s prior permission. This is where a release form comes in handy. This allows the client to grant or deny the right to share with the public any evidence you may have. Some clients do not want their private residence and their belongings shown to the world. Also do not share a private residence’s address or any other personal information with the public. It is your job, as a professional, to respect the rights and privacy of your client. If you publish evidence or information without permission, this may upset the client and make you and/or your group seem unprofessional; not to mention it may land you and your team in legal trouble.  When doing a home investigation the main priority should be for client confidentiality. Due to religious concerns, personal reasons, and simply the fact that some are embarrassed of the idea of paranormal phenomenon many clients will not want their name of information released.

  • One way to avoid releasing any client information even to investigators is to create a case number when the case comes in and there-on refer to the case as such. Only the case manager or other records management individual will have the case information.
  • It is imperative to only intrude into the client’s life as much as the case determines. Needless to say going through their underwear drawer most likely isn’t going to find you any paranormal evidence ( unless you have a pervert ghost)
  • One method that some teams do is to cover or turn around any photos of the family to avoid any contamination. The less interaction investigators have with the family the better in order to avoid any potential contamination. Upon doing client interviews only the case manager and a DVR should be present, and this should not be made available to the rest of the team to allow for as close to a blind investigation as possible.
  • Choose 2-3 investigators to work as a review team for each case in order to lessen the potential for bias. All evidence kept can be reviewed with the team as a whole. ( It is always a good idea to not let everyone review their own evidence to avoid bias )
  • When doing public or historic locations is it difficult if not impossible to keep the team from knowing the history of the location. It is important to remind them however that they are looking for what is happening that day…not what has been reported in the past.

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 3 – Working with others (such as friends & other teams)

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

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Working with your friends is always fun, and there is always room for a little fun in a paranormal investigation, but it is important to keep in mind that you are on location to collect scientific data.

  • Will your friends listen to you when they need to? Will they take you seriously?
  • Does everyone have a reason to be there?
  • Each person on an investigation should have a set role and a set job for that role. No individuals other than trainees on occasion should be there. Not only can having extra individuals potentially contaminate evidence, but they can also be offensive and unprofessional to both living and dead housemates for too many people to be parading through a location.
  • In the end everyone will have a differing opinion on a location. When it comes down to it let your evidence review team make the final call based on what they have.

Different individuals have different methods of investigation. Some will go on a hunch, some will remain purely scientific, others will use occult means to determine a haunting, and still others may possess some level of clairvoyance. As investigators and as a team it is important to respect each others differing methods of evidence collection. One easy way to avoid issues in this arena is to set standards of what is and is not admissible evidence before going on any cases. One of the biggest problems in the paranormal investigation community is talking negatively about other paranormal groups and individual paranormal investigators. This is childish behavior and just makes you and your group appear unprofessional.

Before planning an investigation, find out if any other paranormal investigation groups have investigated the location. Try to contact the paranormal group and listen to their experiences and see if they will show you any evidence they may have.

In return, offer to share any findings with other groups. This could be sharing with a group that previously shared with you or sharing findings with groups that are scheduled to investigate a location you already have. Granted, if the client has asked that the finding not be shared publicly then remind the group you plan to share the information with of that. In fact, it is always good to include a form that either grants or declines the sharing of findings with other groups for the client to sign for legal purposes. When working with other teams it is not the point to be the “winner”. Although we may all have differing investigation methods we all lose when we tear each other apart and claim fake on someone else’s work.

  • If there is something you don’t understand in another team’s work take the time to question what brought them to that conclusion.
  • Inquire on any history that you may not have on the location.
  • If you see an error in evidence take the time to gently explain the error rather than calling fake. We all started out somewhere and by helping an individual better understand a mistake you are making more allies than you are by calling them out as a fake, a fraud, or a noob.

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 2 – Being Professional

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

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Obtaining permission and permits–Before even considering investigating a claimed haunted location, paranormal investigators need to obtain the required permission and/or permits ahead of time. To enter onto a property without permission is considered trespassing, not to mention disrespectful. Even if a location is abandoned it is still legally owned by someone. Some places require permits before allowing access. Cemeteries after dark are just one example. Be sure to have permit in hand before traipsing through a cemetery after dark. In most cities, cemeteries are closed to the public once the sun sets and violators can be fined or serve jail time.

 

Professionalism Every paranormal investigator should act in a professional way at all times when dealing with a client. Always be polite and respectful. Horseplay has no place during a paranormal investigation. A paranormal investigation doesn’t start at the time the team arrives at the location. It begins from the moment a client contacts you, to well beyond presenting evidence to the client.

Groups who pride themselves in professionalism often have forms for the client to sign. This could be a release form for permission to share any evidence with the public. It is also good to have references from previous clients. Under no circumstance should a paranormal investigator or paranormal group misrepresent themselves in any way.

When meeting with clients or potential clients, paranormal investigators should dress professionally. This doesn’t necessarily mean suit and tie but don’t come looking like a slob either. Take pride in your appearance because first impressions do matter. Would you want to have some stranger come into your home or place of business that appeared as if this was just something fun to pass the time with? Probably not. Although not required, most paranormal investigation groups have shirts with their logo or group name on them.

Professionalism extends to treating the location with respect. Do not damage property in any way. Also, do not touch any item in the client’s home or business without prior permission. How would you feel if someone came into your place messing with your things?

Being Objective–It is important to stay objective. Although many paranormal investigators are believers in the paranormal, it is important to make sure there are no natural causes for the claims. If every effort has been made to try to find a logical, natural explanation to no avail, then look toward a paranormal explanation.

 

False Claims–“Thou Shalt Not Fake Evidence.” For those who don’t know, bearing false witness means lying. And if you’re going to falsify, exaggerate, or otherwise alter evidence, then why are you doing ghost investigation? These investigations are about trying to find the truth about a possible haunting as best we can.

So falsifying or exaggerating a sighting, manufacturing EVP, Photo shopping pictures, and other evidence tampering and passing them off as genuine is a ghost hunting mortal sin.  Being in the technology age, it is easier to create effects that would make evidence from a paranormal investigation seem like it actually occurred. Not only is it unprofessional to fake evidence and create hoaxes, but it makes the entire paranormal investigation community look bad. Ghosts and other paranormal phenomena may not always perform on command but this doesn’t mean you should try to create evidence that is misleading.

Dec 08

Ethics Week, 1 – Let’s get ethical!

Ashley Ann Lewis

Ashley Ann Lewis

Director / Dept Chair Occult at National Paranormal Society
Ashley became interested in the paranormal at a young age, but at that young age she did not have much understanding in it at all. I wasn’t until 2010 that she really became interested. Thanks to a Resolve carpet cleaning can that flew across the room, Ashley among three others who witness what happen that night, they pulled a team together. Ashley is a heavy researcher and though she may find the answer to what she is searching for she’ll search even harder. She’s overly determined and takes her part in the paranormal field very seriously. Between working hard and spending every dime she had she became a found of a paranormal team that is based out of Historic Louisiana and was honored to take on a position as a Representative with The National Paranormal Society. There is still so much she does not understand which drives her to work even harder and to further educate herself on everything.
Ashley Ann Lewis

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This week we will be discussing ethics as they apply to the paranormal community.  First, let’s look at the definition of what ethics are.

Dictionary.com defines ethics as:

1)      A system of moral principles

2)      The rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.

3)      Moral principles, as of an individual

4)      The branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions

 

WHETHER YOU ARE a seasoned member of a ghost-hunting group or an occasional investigator who likes to participate around Halloween or at special events, there are rules you must follow. Too often we have heard of ghost-hunting groups that seem to operate without any rules at all, and the result is almost always chaos, bad evidence, sometimes even illegal activity and injury.

Every ghost-hunting group should have a set of bylaws by which it operates, and these should be written down, agreed to, and pledged to by every member of the group. Yes, these investigations can be fun, but they must also be taken seriously and handled professionally – especially when the investigation is in someone’s home.

Dec 08

Day 7, Wrapping It All Up

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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This week we discussed Organizing a Paranormal Investigation team. A few things to remember is to make your Mission Statement as clear and concise as possible. For example, if you are a scientific research based team, religious/occult based, or just trying to prove or disprove a haunting…you need to state so. Please do not mislead your clients and the public about your intentions.

Equipment use: It is a very good idea to know how to use your equipment. Many times false positives will show up and you will be able to better understand them if you know your equipment.

Team participation: Give your team members periodic assignments. One good thing is to have periodic team meetings to discuss current events, future events and to learn. A good way of learning is to have the team research certain paranormal topics, or give them a paranormal quiz.

Client interaction: Professional conduct must be conducted when interacting with clients and out in the public at all times. The public, in general, does not distinguish one team from another…other than we are all “Ghost Hunters” or “Ghost Busters” etc. It is very disappointing to know there are teams that have gotten to “investigate” and have stolen, vandalized or damaged the clients property. Please respect the client and their property. We are their guests.

One final thing, the National Paranormal Society is here to help, please check out our website. There are endless amounts of resources here for you to use…happy hunting everyone.

Dec 08

Day 6, Tech and Free / Inexpensive Software

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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So you have some audio files that need to download off your audio equipment. Before you download the whole file…listen to the file on the audio device and find the time you want to save. It will save a lot of computer space. Once you have listened and found the times, for example, you want to save a file between 9:30 and 10:30(one minute)…most audio device act just like a mass storage device and is just drag and drop. Now what?

A popular audio editing software is call Audacity. It is free, just search for it on Cnet. Simply import and open your file…select 9:30 to 10:30, select export, open new file and paste the file. Simple.

Now, there are tools in Audacity that can enhance the file in several ways…in my opinion, leave the file original. But that is up to you.

Another popular audio choice is called Wavepad by NHC software. It is also free.

Video editing is a little different, depending what type of video camera you are using. We will talk about mini DV and HDD(hard disk drive) camcorders.

Mini DV is a digital tape similar to a cassette tape but it is digital. It is used frequently by news, tv shows and movies. To get your file off a mini DV camera you will need a capture device such as Dazzle.

HDD cameras act just like mass storage devices and is just a drag and drop. An easy video editing tool is Wavepad video editor by NHC software. It has a free 14 day trial and you will have to register/buy the product after the 14 days, however it is inexpensive. Much like the audio file, just select what you want to save, copy and paste into a new file.

If you have a DVR system, follow your DVR instructions. But generally, they record in what is called H.264. Once you extract the files you want off your DVR (usually this is called backup)…you will need to run the files through a program that converts them from H.264 to Avi. After you have converted the file to Avi, simply run them through Wavepad or whatever video editor you are using.

Please reply with whatever software you are using and any tips and tricks. Once again, I will suggest to keep the files you’re a editing original.

Tomorrow we are going to wrap it all up:

  • audio
  • video

Dec 08

Day 5, Equipment

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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As you notice, not until day 5 is there any mention of equipment to help you investigate. Is equipment important? Yes it is, but the Organization of your Paranormal Investigation Team and client contact and interaction is much more important than any piece of equipment you bring to an investigation. There are a lot of questions about equipment, but I will go over some things to consider before buying and possibly giving some ideas that will save you a lot of money.

First, the fringe equipment. Ghost Boxes, Oviluses, Echvoxes, kinects, EM pumps, EMF meters and other fringe type of devices…don’t worry about those until you have the basics.

What you should consider bringing:

  • A notepad and pen. It is extremely important to take notes…everything from your interview with the client, research notes, area layout and anything out of the ordinary you might notice before or during your investigation (investigation log).
  • Video camera. Documentation by video is very important. Visual aide will help with pear review and compliments your written documentation. A tip – Camcorders can be found at Pawn Shops relatively inexpensive…the Pawn Shops are almost giving them away. A good choice is finding a camcorder that is Infrared capable (for all lighting conditions). I will go over my Philosophy about using Infrared and Full Spectrum camcorders on day 7.
  • Audio recorders. Audio recorders are also very important. It will help you keep track of notes when interviewing a client and helps with documentation. Can it catch an EVP? Possible, but I will go over that in my Philosophy on day 7. A good rule is to buy one that has a USB port.
  • Still Picture Camera. Take several pictures throughout your investigation, from initial setup, to environmental readings and continue throughout. It documents what you are doing.
  • Flashlight. Keep a good flashlight with you. You don’t want to be stuck in an unknown “haunted” building without light. It is a must for safety. Small LED flashlights work very well.
  • First Aid Kit. Keep a well-stocked small First Aid Kit within reach. It is best to have it when needed than need it and not have it. Along with a First Aid Kit, please keep a list of emergency numbers with you…and know how to contact Fire/Police/EMS.

A tip – along with Pawn Shops, Large Box Stores such as Wal Mart has almost all of these necessary pieces of equipment.

Now that you have the basics in your equipment kit…on day 6 we will go over some necessary video and audio software that you can use.

Equipment

  • what to bring
  • budget ideas

Dec 08

Day 4, The Investigation Process

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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The first three days we discussed organizing your team, now is onto the Investigation process and we will discuss a few important things to consider.

Finding locations to investigate. This can be a bit difficult but you must be willing to get out and research what is considered “haunted” in your area. Your best bet is by word of mouth. By now your friends, family and even co-workers may know that you are a part of a paranormal team and usually this can spark interest. They might give you some leads on a friend’s house or business that is “haunted” or their own property. Another good thing to do, and this has to do with knowing your equipment…practice the investigation process at your own team member’s houses. I would advise to practice investigating at these places first before we go into the next step. You do not want to look like you don’t know what you are doing in public.

If you wish to do a Paranormal Investigation at a business, historical location or a private family home (that you do not know)…use free advertisement such as craigslist and the National Paranormal Society’s team locator. Another thing you can do is perform an internet search at websites such as shadowlands.net. Once you find an address, email address or phone number of the business or historical location, you can do all three things to gain interest from the client…send a letter, email, make a phone call or stop by in person. You must state clearly your intentions in all these avenues and be professional and courteous. You represent the Paranormal Community at this point. Look professional and be professional at all times! For example, wear a collared shirt and nice pants and look “neat”. I also highly suggest writing a “Proposal to Perform a Paranormal Investigation” letter to take with you.

Many times, you might not get an answer back or a flat out “No”. Be courteous and thank them for their time and move on. DO NOT continue to ask them about performing an investigation…and once again, trespassing will get you in trouble.

If you get a “Yes”, make sure the person has the authority to grant you permission on the property…It has to be a Manager, Property Manager, Caretaker, Owner…etc.

After you get the “Yes” The next part is the actual investigation, and needs to be explained fully to them. This is what several teams use:

 Initial Contact

The client contacts the team via email. The client should leave a statement of what the paranormal experiences are, and a contact number where they can be reached.

A member from the team will contact the client, usually within 24hrs. At this time, an initial phone interview will be conducted. The interview is approximately 34 questions. Not all questions need to be answered and are kept confidential. If an investigation is requested at this time, a date could be set for an investigation, upon availability of the clients and investigators.

Research and Historical Research

The team will ask for the client’s permission to conduct research and historical research on questions gathered and any history of the area and/or buildings associated with the investigation. This is up to the client to approve or request. All information gathered will be covered under the Confidentiality Agreement.

Day of the Investigation

The lead investigators will meet with the clients at the place to be investigated.

Permission to conduct a Paranormal Investigation and Confidentiality Agreement

Two forms will need to be signed before the team will conduct an investigation. Paranormal Investigators Investigation and Confidentiality Agreement form gives the team approval to be on the client’s property for a certain length of time to conduct a paranormal investigation. It also protects the client from any liability in the event of an injury to a team member or a piece of the team’s equipment is damaged. Paranormal Investigators Confidentiality Agreement is a form that gives privacy to the client. The privacy of the client is most important. This form will state the level of information that can be released (if any), by the team, about the client and their case. This is solely the decision of the client and in no way will the team try to persuade the client’s decision.

Once those two forms are signed, an initial walkthrough will be conducted. During the walkthrough, the client can explain what and where the paranormal experiences have occurred. The lead investigators will then take environmental readings, note any safety concerns, and discuss with the client the best areas to place the team’s equipment.

Investigation

This takes from 4 to 6 hours, or however long the client requests. After the investigation is finished, the team will collect their equipment and secure the area if the client is not present. The area will be left in the same condition it was in before the team arrived.

Collection of evidence and review

PI team reviews all potential evidence.

Evidence presentation and recommendations

PI will present the client with any potential evidence. A written report will be included, either printed or in a word document file. Video and audio evidence will be in a media file – DVDrom, MP3, MPG4, AVI etc. We will also include any recommendations, or environmental and safety concerns.

One more thing to consider, more often than not, the client will be present with you during an investigation. Professional conduct must be continued during the investigation.

On Day 5, we will discuss probably the most asked about part….equipment.

Investigation process

  • client contact/Interaction/finding locations
  • Investigation procedure
  • research

Dec 08

Day 3, Team Member Duties

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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In the first two days of this week’s topic, we discussed the importance of a Mission Statement, Goals and objectives and Rules, Regulations. The next step is to organize Team Member duties and fill these spots with team members best suited. This gives everyone on the team a job and also is a great way of learning the different and very important aspects of running a successful organization.

Lead Investigator:

  • Responsible for all aspects of the teams functions
  • Makes all final decisions – tech issues, case manager and research questions
  • Reporting to the Lead Investigator are the Case Manager, Equipment Tech Manager, Research Specialist and Investigators

Case Manager:

  • Research of locations known to have paranormal activity
  • Obtaining contact information for said locations
  • Contacting locations and person of interest to obtain more detailed information
  • Written documentation of information

Basically, a Case Manager will be the front person in obtaining investigations. They look for sites to investigate, make contact via email or mail and follow up for interview, if possible. If interview or acceptance to investigate is obtained, they will bring information to the Founders and a decision will be made as to whether an investigation will happen and when.

Equipment Tech Manager:

  • Ensures that the equipment used in any investigation is up to par in what the equipment is used for.
  • Continuously looks for ways in which paranormal activity can scientifically be recorded or proven by experimenting with new or classic equipment either in its normal use or in a more creative way.
  • Responsible for equipment set up and making sure that the equipment is being used properly by other members which will require training if necessary.

Research Specialist:

  • Responsible for following up on leads given by any given member, specifically the Case Managers.
  • Needs to have a good sense of Web surfing and Library Usage if necessary.
  • Information researched will need to be as detailed as possible and notation should be taken of all information obtained.
  • Information found will be passed on to the Case Managers and Founders only until a decision is made to investigate or not. If an investigation is to be performed, the details will be given to all members.

Investigators:

  • Trained in all aspects of an investigation as needed.
  • Trained in equipment usage, notation, the paranormal in theory, and investigating procedures.
  • Will help the Case Manager, Tech Manager and Researcher when necessary.

It is important to have the team member fully understand their position on the team as to avoid confusion. Also, these positions are only for reference, you can fit, mold and name each position as you see fit.

Dec 08

Day 2: Rules and Regulations for Your Team and Do’s and Don’ts

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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On day one we discussed how important it is to have a Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives. Another critical part of organizing a Paranormal Investigation team is you must have Rules and Regulations and common sense Do’s and Don’ts. Your Rules and Regulations need to reflect how the conduct of your team is and conduct in front of the public and clients. Here are a few to think about:

  1. Never trespass on private property. We only investigate when we have proper permission.
  2. No drugs or alcohol will be consumed before or during an investigation.
  3. Always investigate in teams of two, never alone. *situation dictates, Lead Investigator’s decision.
  4. Respect the place we are investigating, we are their guests.
  5. If startled or threatened, calmly walk out to safety. Let others know.
  6. Safety is priority. If you find an unsafe area, let everyone know.
  7. We will not litter, vandalize, willfully damage, unlawfully take or disrespect other’s property.
  8. Tobacco products will only be used in designated areas.
  9. Always carry a valid driver’s license or military I.D.
  10. Make no assumptions or opinions to the clients until all evidence is reviewed.
  11. We will leave the place investigated as we found it (all trash will be picked up).
  12. Guest Investigators (or other team’s investigators), friends and family are welcome, but will not be allowed to an investigation without approval.
  13. Team members can step down whenever they want without adverse action.
  14. _ _PI team members will not use social media outlets to talk negative about other paranormal groups or investigators.
  15. _ _PI team members will follow the Paranormal Investigators Confidentiality Agreement and will not release any information without approval from the _ _PI team.
  16. Safety is priority at _ _PI. _ _PI and its founders assumes no liability if an injury occurs during an investigation.
  17. All evidence will be reviewed in a timely manner. Remember, our clients are trusting us.
  18. Clients names, addresses, personal information and evidence gathered during an investigation will only be released with the approval of _ _PI. Pictures and videos can be posted with client’s approval AS LONG AS no information about names and locations are included in them.
  19. _ _PI will not use religion or the occult on investigations. We will use a scientific approach and will be unbiased towards any religion or beliefs. If a client requests religion or the occult be used, _ _PI will look at this approach on a case by case basis.
Do’s and Don’ts

Do:

  • Keep an open mind
  • Respect the property and client
  • Present the paranormal field in a positive way
  • Remember, the public is watching you.

Don’t:

  • “dating” or “mutual contact” between team members during an investigation
    Look at it like this, if you go to a Doctor’s office and the Doctor is making out with the nurse as you walk in…how does that look?
  • Damaging client’s property
  • “Befriending” client before or during investigation
  • There should not be any “smoking and joking” with the client before or during an investigation. Keep a professional and courteous demeanor.
  • Trespass or enter a client’s property without verbal and written authorization
  • Litter

Most of the Rules and Regulations and Do’s and Don’ts might seem obvious, but remember this is how your team needs to conduct themselves. The Rules and Regulations and Do’s and Don’ts need to reflect the type of Paranormal Investigation team you are covered in your Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives.

On Day 3 we will discuss the next step…Team Member duties and responsibilities.

Dec 08

Day 1: Organizing a Paranormal Investigation Team

Ted Milam

Ted Milam

Ted grew up in Maryland and spent his early years near Antietam Battlefield, where he witnessed a few unexplained things as a young kid. When Ted graduated high school, he joined the United States Marine Corps, and spent 10 years on active duty traveling the United States and quite a few Countries along the way. After a paranormal experience while serving in Japan, Ted knew he had to find out some answers. After leaving the Marines in 2002, Ted was hired as a Firefighter in the San Diego area, where he spent the next 6 years. In 2008, he went to Iraq as a contractor for a year, then in 2009, moved to Georgia where he works today as a Firefighter in the Savannah area. Ted founded Ghost Watchers Paranormal Investigations – Savannah, in 2010. Ted’s goal is to find some common answers in the paranormal field.
Ted Milam

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This week we are going to discuss the basics of organizing a paranormal investigation team. The info will be just the basics and some pointers that will help your team organize and make a successful Paranormal Organization. A lot of this info has been gathered through trial and error from quite a few teams.

Ok, so you want to organize your own Paranormal Investigation Team. Now what? You might even have a few people that are interested in joining you on this adventure. First, you must realize that organizing a Paranormal Team is a HUGE undertaking. There is a lot more to Paranormal Investigating than walking through a dark old building with a bunch of cameras and fancy equipment…this is only one small step in being a successful Paranormal Investigation team.

The very first thing that is highly recommended for you to do (after you understand the responsibility and huge undertaking this will be) is your team must have 1. A Mission Statement 2. Goals and Objectives. These are extremely important as to not misrepresent your team to the client and public and also stay true to your goals. Remember, in this field, the eyes of the public are not only on you and your team…but you represent the Paranormal Community in whole.

  1. Mission Statement
    An effective mission statement must be a clear, concise declaration about your team’s strategy. Don’t underestimate the importance of a mission statement. If you don’t have one, you need to write one using these four essential questions:

    1. What do we do?
    2. How do we do it?
    3. Whom do we do it for?
    4. What value are we bringing?
  2. Goals and Objectives
    Make sure you write a goal that is SMART.

Specific: Goals should be simplistically written and clearly define what you are going to do. What will the goal accomplish? How and why will it be accomplished?

Measurable: Goals should be measurable so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Usually the entire goal statement is a measure for the project, but there are usually several short-team or smaller measurements built into the goal. How will you measure whether or not the goal has been reached? (List at least two indicators.)

Achievable: Goals should be achievable; they should stretch you slight so that you feel challenged but well enough defined so that you can achieve them. You must possess the appropriate knowledge, skills and abilities needed to achieve the goal. Make sure you establish a reasonable timeframe for achieving your goal. Is it possible? Have others done it successfully? Do you have the necessary knowledge, skills, abilities, and resources to accomplish the goal? Will meeting the goal challenge you without defeating you?

Results-focused: Goals should measure outcomes, not activities. What is the reason, purpose, or benefit of accomplishing the goal? What is the result (not activities leading up to the result) of the goal?

Time-bound: Goals should be linked to a time frame that creates a practical sense of urgency, or results in tension between the current reality and the vision of the goal. Without such tension, the goal is unlikely to produce a relevant outcome. What is the established completion date and does that completion date create a special sense of urgency?

Both Mission Statement and Goals and Objectives should be included in a Team Member Packet that is handed out to team members to agree upon and reference.

We will cover the next step in Organizing a Paranormal Investigation Team tomorrow, day 2…Rules and Regulations for your team.

Dec 08

Pre-investigation Strategy

~The Necessity of the Pre-Investigation Walk Though~

Information is Power. Sometimes, knowing the slightest sliver of information is the difference between success and failure. The prior knowledge of the Lay of the Land is a formidable piece of information in the right hands. Entire battles and portions of history have been decided simply because Generals and Warlords chose particular locations for their skirmishes to take place. Utilizing their prior knowledge of the area along with intelligence derived from initial scouting to develop a strategy for success. Knowing the Lay of the Land is no different in Paranormal Investigations. The initial walk through of an impending investigation location can be one of the most impactful pieces of intelligence from a time investment and safety perspective for your team. Prior to the first time investigation of a location (Residence, Business, pay-for-venue) every attempt possible should be made for an on-site walk through/inspection with the Client.  This allows the investigator to assess the location, diagram/sketch/map out the floor plans and confirm allegedly areas of activity.

If your Team conducts a pre-investigation walk through/inspection with the client consider adding this basic question:

Is there any history with this property that would pose a health threat to any of my investigators or we should be aware of?

If you don’t ask, or fear this question you need to reconsider your priorities. The ability to help, whether as a first responder in an emergency situation or in the paranormal realm, requires fundamental safety practices to be present. We concede you can’t remove all risks for a Paranormal Investigation, but being informed and aware is the bare minimum of due diligence.

Assessing:

There is such a concern with helping clients that sometimes the very basics of safety and common sense take a backseat. The assessment phase of a walk through should immediately revolve around the safety of Investigators to return the location, followed by safety for your clients. Employees have O.S.H.A. to look out for their interests in the work place; the paranormal investigator has the Team Leads and initial assessment conducted during the walk through. Yes, helping clients is extremely important. But the Health and Safety of your Team should be Priority Number 1!

There are a host of Environmental concerns that should be listed and checked off prior to allowing a full blown investigation. The complete list for consideration would be enormous but please consider the basic issues like:

  • Electrical concerns w/exposed wires
  • Extension cords out in the open
  • Nails, screws, missing floorboards or handrails
  • Animals/Pets
  • Mold, Mildew, Odors
  • Poisonous Gases/Sewer Concerns
  • Stairways – uneven runs
  • Hazards with on-going remodeling
  • Asbestos Risks

Deserted/Abandoned Properties:

If the property looks deserted or abandoned you need to ask:  WHY is it deserted?

Are there any structural Integrity issues?

Is the electricity rigged?

Is there Asbestos present?

Basement & Attics:         (Consider adding Dust Masks to your Equipment Lists)

These areas are often forgotten by owners as areas of concern. Ask direct questions.

Does the basement flood?  (mold)

Known vermin, bat, other pests including their waste or recent pesticide in the area?

Exposed wires, Boiler concerns, etc…

Meth Houses: (This is one of my favorite topics and I still have trouble believing this has to be covered.)

I’ve seen a dedicated Team eager to help a client claiming demonic issues who readily admitted the prior tenant (a family member now incarcerated) previously used the same location to make METH. The production of Meth Amphetamine involves several extremely toxic substances that can leach into the surrounding environment (floors, walls, etc) and pose serious health risks to anyone present. These are not issues that can be simply removed or dissipate over time. These by products require professionally trained specialist to isolate, identify, clean and safely render inert. PLEASE– do not investigate locations when you discover it was used, or is still in use, for the production of Meth or other illegal drugs! These Health Risks towards your team members cannot be more extreme.

Client/Owners:

If the walk through is the first face-to-face with a Client take advantage of this time period to assess their state of mind and the state of their environment. Simple deduction and observation may lead you to recognize other elements that may be responsible for the suspected paranormal complaint or you may recognize signs of intense drug or alcohol use that may require the investigation to be halted for Team Member safety concerns. We highly recommend that first time face-to-face client meetings and walk through/Inspections be attend by a minimum of two team members. Also, have predetermined requirements to address and report signs of illegal activity (Drugs, Child Abuse, etc.)

Diagram/Map/Sketch:

If there are not any obvious safety concerns then a diagram of the location is needed. While larger, paid for venues may have detailed diagrams available on their websites residential and small business will not have these available. For such a building or premises the rough diagram/sketch should cover every room, every floor, including all entry/exits, NSEW arrow and basic large furniture. These can quickly be jotted down on a sketch pad, translated to “paint” or other program of your choice. If not readily apparent be sure and ask the client where the fuse box is during the diagram/sketch phase and be sure to add it to your diagram. At this time digital pictures can be taken of each room for use in the pre-investigation meeting (note: these are not in depth photos that should be considered from each corner of the room during the set up of the investigation). Extra copies of the complete diagram should be available during equipment set up to mark where digital (DVR) recorder will be facing and to each investigator to note where audio recorders or hand held devices are placed. Combined with the Documentation Spreadsheet (see separate article) the combination of all this information provides robust and exact equipment placement for evidence review. Let me clarify that we are not advocating the exact measurement of every room, but rough sketches of each room with your notes and observations can be a real asset before and after the actual investigation.

Confirmation:

After assessing the safety concerns and sketching your observations of the investigation location you should confirm you have all the pertinent info collected with the Client. Take time to sit down with the Client and revisit their own accounts to positively identify the areas of reported activity. Take notes and ask for any points of clarification. If possible revisit these particular areas and recount the activity to confirm you have a complete understanding of the alleged activity. Note electrical outlets to utilize for equipment deployment, consider camera angels that allow the widest berth of coverage that include entry/exits into the room.

Conclusion:

Pre-planning, information gathering and strategy are 3 pieces of the Walk Through and Safety Assessment that will protect your Team and speed the equipment set up so your Investigation can move quickly. Two prime examples:

In 2009 while working with another Team I received a call to assist a group of investigators with a possible Paranormal Complaint. Essentially a family member had invited this Paranormal Team to investigate at another Family member’s house where the homeowner was hearing voices. When I pressed for more information the Team Lead eventually stated that the homeowner was depressed, drinking alcohol on a constant basis and was not overly thrilled about his sisters insistence that a Paranormal Team come to his home to investigate. This prompted me to ask more questions and discover that the homeowner was going to be home when the Team was present, likely drinking and had firearms in his household. It’s everyone’s right (of Legal age) to own a firearm and consume alcohol-but to go to someone’s house who did not personally invite you, is depressed, consuming depressants, hearing voices and readily accessible to weapons should be a Red Flag to step back and reassess what’s safe and what may be a dangerous situation. I think if the homeowner personally requested assistance and wasn’t actively drinking at the time of an investigation any Team would be willing to help. However, with the circumstances and facts revealed I politely refused.

In the fall of 2012 we returned to Bobby Mackey’s for a follow up investigation involving some return and some new Investigators. Pulling our Spreadsheet of the previous investigation, diagram map (complete with electrical outlets) we identified the hot spot areas we wished to record. Meeting with the new Investigators we revealed our game plan, determined our camera angles, cord placement, electrical outlet primary use (and a secondary if needed) at our hotel. As soon as we entered Bobby Mackey’s we had a complete DVR Surveillance set up with confirmed camera angles on target and recording in 22 minutes. Even the staff at BM’s stated it was the fastest Equipment set up they had ever witnessed.

Planning and Strategy: Two concepts that will strengthen your future Investigations….

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