Tag: article

Finding Places to Investigate

The MOST Frequently Ask Question in the Paranormal Field

 

Submitted by Belinda Clark-Ache

 

Many groups have different goals in the paranormal field. My goal—our goal—at Haunted Missouri Paranormal Research (after helping if some one is in distress) is data collection. Those with other goals may have other answers. For our purposes it is as important to collect data at locations that have no history of haunting as it is to collect data at reportedly haunted locations. Why? To compare your findings. How do you know what is “paranormal” if you don’t know what is “normal”? If you have pages of temp readings and EMF readings from both types of locations it should be readily and immediately obvious when those readings are abnormal. In the locations where the readings were high, the other corresponding pieces of evidence would take on more significance. The more documented evidence that you collect at the same location; the easier it is to call it haunted.

Because we collect data in both types of locations we have twice the opportunities to investigate. Some of our favorite investigations are at historic hotels, B&B’s and businesses in historic buildings. These are always worth what you pay for your room rent (especially when you rent all the rooms and divide it among a group. That brings most of the historic places within financial reach for most investigators.) You get the history, the ambiance, the fabulous locations, normally at least one good meal and 6 to 10 hours of data.

I can almost see some of you who are new to the field sitting staring at the screen with a confused look on your face and wondering if it isn’t a waste of time to investigate at places that do not claim to be haunted. No it is not a waste of time. These places have history. Un-haunted historic places are as fascinating because they have literally all the earmarks that should create a haunting, so why isn’t there one there? We have actually gotten evidence of haunting in locations that we were able to authenticate in historical records that the owners were not even aware of!

These places are excellent for training trips and for “Junior” ghost hunting trips to help train young people who want to get into the real thing when they are older, but beware; some places have no reputation but that doesn’t mean they aren’t haunted! We have several perfect historical locations we can take our trainee’s or juniors that give them plenty of practice in a safe environment.

Okay, whether or not you agree with that approach there are other places as well. Many people love to investigate cemeteries. I go on these and have had some terrific experiences and gathered compelling data. They are not my favorite because the outdoors will never rival a restored historical B&B for me.

Battlefields! These history soaked acres are an amazing experience and I recommend spending as much time as you can in them collecting data. These are a thrill to do. Most are National Parks so you have to follow the rules and some do not want any equipment besides camera’s, audio and video. Who cares? They are well worth whatever you have to do to get to them. Look them up and try going on the anniversary of their battles. Play period music while there and be prepared to be awed with an almost religious experience.

There are also public locations that have fabulous histories. Historical landmarks, City and town parks where legendary lectures or political rallies took place, some where tragedies played out, where entire villages used to stand… numerous and varied human experiences that could very well fall into the category of place where strong emotional ties could herald a haunting. Remember it is not only horrible experiences that can leave an imprint on a location and render it haunted. Where great joy, relief, love, excitement and a full range of physically powerful occurrences happen that would make the perfect circumstance under which a haunting could occur.

Your Chamber of Commerce should have a list of rules as to what is allowed in these locations but it is my experience that if you are not invasive and do not offend the public they are going to leave you alone. Please obey the rules if a location closes at a certain time. Request permission from City Hall to be there late using some form of inquiry, I prefer either in person or by snail mail. For neighboring towns and communities the Chamber of Commerce is almost as good a resource as the local historical society!

When it comes to people’s homes, they have to invite you unless you’re going to chase hearses and contact the families out of the obituaries to try to hawk your services and please, don’t do that! You are going to have to establish yourself online and in your community in order to have those requests coming in to you. Positive word of mouth and patience are your best bet where this is concerned.

Try placing ads in your local free paper or press. Something like “Local researcher seeks true ghost stories, legend or lore for possible investigation or authentication.” Use your newspapers Community Calendar to announce open meetings in public locations. Local radio stations might also have a service where they announce local items of interest like this. Again, try making small donations to local charities in your teams’ name, or donate T-Shirts or some other item to local groups for raffles and fund raisers. Contact the local Eagles, Elks, VFW for instance; they are always looking for donations for fund raisers! Many are also located in historic old buildings as well. It’s all about a positive community impression both locally and in the online paranormal community!

A favorite tip is to spend your money in your hometown. Having business cards made? T-shirts printed? Flyers? Do it locally. Everyone knows someone with a personal ghost story, when they see your team name they will mention it to others. Consider contacting local “Spiritualist” churches. Send your card or place flyers with local psychics, mediums, palm readers, new age shops, etc. Leave business cards neatly in public seating areas like waiting rooms; add with tips at the hairdressers or pub. If you have read about a location in your town that has been investigated contact them and ask if they were satisfied with the experience and why or why not. This may not lead to an investigation but could be invaluable information on what not to do!

Consider getting a toll free number and spend the money on a yellow page ad. I haven’t done this yet but it is on my agenda to do so. Offer to give a speech/lecture at your local community center, college, drama club, theatrical group or library during the Halloween season when interest is high. Hang flyers in laundry mats, on bulletin boards in grocery and retail stores, hotels & B&B, submit your business cards to those restaurant free lunch drawings, and put a flyer or business card in every piece of outgoing mail: someone opens those bills to get the checks out.

Pluck investigation opportunities from your friends, family and co-workers. Do you know someone who just built a new house on a piece of land that was never cleared before? The data collected from that location would be great for establishing your baseline readings. Know someone in a 30 year old trailer? Living in an RV at the KOA? Staying in an efficiency motel room? Buying a Victorian to rehab? Working in a theater? Renting a condo? Ask them about allowing you to collect data in these locations. Hey, they’re your friends and family: ask them!

Businesses are another story. Rather they embrace their ghost story or not they are in business and if it will benefit their bottom line most (unless they are morally opposed) will make arrangements for you to investigate if it doesn’t disrupt their daily operation and you pay your own way. I’m sorry if this disillusions you, but money talks and bullcrap walks. You can always offer to make a contribution to their favorite charity in their businesses name as well. Again; query in person or by mail for best results.

There are, of course abandoned locations but I want to caution you on several levels. First abandoned locations are not necessarily public domain. They have owners– on that you can almost bet. To find the owners of an abandoned location take the address to City Hall to the hall of records or recorder of deeds and use the address to look up who pays (or owes) the taxes on that lot. Trust me someone either pays it or owes it and that name is public record and this is usually free.

Be prepared to offer to sign away all of your rights to sue the owner for accident or injury to gain permission to these locations. In fact you would be smart to mention in your inquiry that you would remove any liability from the property owner if they allowed you entrée and some harm did befall you. One other thing: if you are going to do this do not go into them for the first time in the dark. At least go in before hand in the daylight and mark any unstable or questionably safe areas with those glow sticks you can get at the dollar store so after dark you are safe in the locations. Don’t go alone those places can harbor not only homeless, harmless or not but also criminals. Also be sure your cell phones work and you have proper ID.

For years before I began to ghost hunt I would take my clueless (about ghosts) hubby on trips to places I had read were haunted. I learned a fabulous fact then that is one of my favorite tips to hand out. If you want to know the haunted history of an area, find a well established club, tavern, bar, diner or grill; cozy up to the bar, share a nice social cocktail (well in advance of your investigation or even on another preliminary visit) and talk to the bartender. Food service workers like bartenders, waitresses and caterers are a fabulous resources most people over look. Just don’t try to pin them down during a rush and remember they work for tips. Try handing over a nice five spot when you pay for your Shirley Temple and see how attentive they can be.

You don’t need a public relations or media person unless you have an agent or some one representing you to the lecture venue so get over yourself and get real in your communities. It’s your name and team name so use it frequently in your home town. If you are honest you will build a positive reputation and that can not be begged, borrowed or stolen!

 

 

Belinda Clark-Ache co-founded Haunted Missouri Paranormal Studies in 2005, with Tonya L. Clark.  HauntedMo ™ continues to consult and investigate by referral and works with some of the most respected investigators in the field. She is proud to be associated with Southwest Ghostfinders, Dr. Timothy Harte, The Willard Library Ghost Chatters, to name a few. Belinda is author of a Facebook page Ghost Stories from HauntedMo(tm) that features submitted stories of all genres, and her original work fiction and non fiction alike. She lives in the Missouri boot heel with her husband of 35 years, Stan, and a 4 year old Great White Pyrenees named Lucy. You can find Belinda on Facebook  and read more of her writing on her HauntedMo(tm) group page.

 

 


 

 

Pareidolia – An Example

Photography – Is it paranormal? An example of Pareidolia

Submitted by Jennifer Oberski

 

Click for full size

 

One of the things that you have to be very careful of as a paranormal investigator is being too quick to call something ghostly, or paranormal, before sitting down to take a closer look at what you may actually have in front of you.

 

Troy Truth Seekers offers an Introduction to Paranormal Investigation course in partnership with the local cultural center, and we took the last attendees to an investigation at the Overfield Tavern Museum here in Troy, Ohio.  There haven’t been any specific claims of haunting or paranormal activity at the Overfield, and that, coupled with its well documented history and layout, make it the perfect place to run through an investigation for the first time.

 

One of my favorite pieces at the Overfield is an antique mirror that hangs in the hallway on the first floor.  You can see it above, the picture was taken by one of the Intro to Para-Investigation attendees on our last mock investigation.

 

Wikipedia has a great article on Pareidolia, and this is a perfect example.  As the mirror in the picture above aged, the silver backing had become damaged, and the shape just happens to be vaguely human, especially when viewed on a three inch lcd screen on the back of a digital camera.

The lesson to take away from this example is to always be aware of your surroundings, take multiple shots of the same area, and don’t be afraid to look at something with your own eyes, instead of from behind the lens.

 

 

Jennifer Oberski a member of the Troy Truth Seekers, from Troy, Ohio.

Ghost Interview

Ghost Interview; 50 Questions to use when recording for Electronic Voice Phenomenon

Submitted by Belinda Clark-Ache

 

 

A few years ago I was given W. Haden Blackman’s “A Field Guide to North American Hauntings” and enjoyed it very much. His “Sample Questionnaire for Ghosts” (Appendix B) was the basis for these interview questions.

Whenever I do EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) recordings I am usually stumped as for what to ask. I watch the ghost hunting programs on television and always wonder how the answers to the questions they ask would further their research even if the spirits replied. These questions are designed first in such a way as to gain information that might be verifiable through historical research.

If you get any replies from the spirit these should be used to conduct independent research. They are designed to provide answers that could be historically validated. You will (of course) need to ask the question and sit quietly, leaving space on the recording for an answer to be recorded.

PLEASE, investigators do not ask leading questions! Just because the “reports” say this is Aunt Suzy’s ghost you need to leave room for the contingency that the spirit may be misidentified. So leave those preconceived notions at the door! For instance; if recording for EVP at The Lemp Mansion do not ask all your questions as if it is William Lemp who will answer. You could lose the opportunity to hear from a spirit who is not that one. That’s why none of these questions are “Is this Aunt Suzy?”

Trying to ID the spirit

1. What is your name? Do you have a nick-name? Were you named after some one? Who?

2. How old are you? What is your birth date?

3. Do you have any relatives? What are their names? You may want to simplify this further by saying what was your father’s name, your mother’s name? Etc.  Did your family move to this country from another country? If so where and do you know what year that was?

4. Are you married? What is your spouse’s name? Were you married more than once? Do you remember your anniversary/anniversaries? Do you have children? What are their names and ages? Where and when were they born?

5. Where do you live? Do you own the place you live? Who did you buy it from? If you rent, what is your land lord’s name? Did you build your own home? If so where did you get supplies? If not do you know who built it?

6. Where do you go to church? What is the pastor/fathers name?

7. Where do you work (or go to school)? What do you do to support yourself or what does your husband/father do to earn a living? Do they own the business or have an employer. Who is the employer?

8. What are your hobbies or favorite pastimes? Who is your favorite author? Politician? Performer?

9. Do you belong to any organizations such as The Masons, Knights of Columbus, or DAR?

10. Who are your close friends?

11. Where do you most like to visit? What stores do you buy your staples from? Where do you buy your clothing?

12. Where were you born? Was there a physician at your birth? A midwife or relative? Do you know what their names are?

13. Are you attached emotionally to a possession?

14. Have you ever spent any time in an asylum, prison, or military installation or in the armed services, served as a law enforcement officer or held public office?

 

A spirit may or may not know that they are no longer among the living. Many hypothesize that it may be dangerous to tell them they are dead while others believe that is the best way to try to convince the spirit to move on. The next questions will not necessarily be ones that you can research for documentation but many have good luck with spirits replying to queries along these lines.

 

15. How do you feel right now? How do you generally feel? Are you happy or sad? Physically, how do you feel? Are you in pain or emotional distress?

16. Are you ever tired, weak, hungry, or cold?

17. How is your long term and short term memory? Are your memories clear or do they seem confused? What is your strongest memory or experience?

18. Are you alone? Are you lonely?

19. What year is it? Do you know today’s exact date?

20. Where are you?

21. Who is the president of the United States (or king of England, or chief of the local tribe depending upon when and where the ghost died)?

22. Do you ever crave certain foods or beverages?

23. Do you have any violent thoughts?

24. Have you committed any violent actions?

25. Does my manner of speech or dress seem strange to you?

26. Do you have nightmares or daydreams?

27. Do you ever feel trapped, confused, or lost?

28. Do you ever dream that you die?

29. Do you recognize anything around us? Does that seem unusual?

30. Have you ever considered the possibility that you may be a ghost?

31. I believe that you are a ghost. How does that make you feel?

 

The next goal, if you are obtaining replies to your questions would logically be learning about the afterlife. Depending on your individual situation you may decide to ask some of these questions as well.

 

32. Can you fly, move through walls, or become invisible? Or are you aware of traveling from one place to another and how you get there?

33. Do you feel that you have returned from the dead because you have a mission to complete?

34. Do you feel that you have returned from the dead because you are searching for

someone or something?

35. How did you die?

36. [If the ghost was murdered] Who do you think was responsible for your death?

37. [If the ghost was a suicide] Why did you take your own life?

38. [If the ghost died in a tragic accident] Do you know of others who perished with

you?

39. What do you enjoy most about being a ghost?

40. What do you like least about being a ghost?

41. What do you miss most about being alive?

42. Do you know any other ghosts?

43. When you are not visible to me, where do you go?

44. Do you ever remember a moment, per­haps as you died, when you consciously chose to become a ghost?

45. Do you know where your body is buried?

46. Have you visited your old home?

47. Do you enjoy frightening people?

48. Have you ever attacked anyone using your ghostly powers?

49. Why have you allowed me to conduct this interview?

50. Are you tired of being a ghost? Is there anything I can do to help you find peace?

 

 

Belinda Clark-Ache co-founded Haunted Missouri Paranormal Studies in 2005, with Tonya L. Clark.  HauntedMo ™ continues to consult and investigate by referral and works with some of the most respected investigators in the field. She is proud to be associated with Southwest Ghostfinders, Dr. Timothy Harte, The Willard Library Ghost Chatters, to name a few. Belinda is author of a Facebook page Ghost Stories from HauntedMo(tm) that features submitted stories of all genres, and her original work fiction and non fiction alike. She lives in the Missouri boot heel with her husband of 35 years, Stan, and a 4 year old Great White Pyrenees named Lucy. You can find Belinda on Facebook  and read more of her writing on her HauntedMo(tm) group page.