Haunting Journal, What is it and why should you advise clients to have one?
Submitted by Belinda Clark-Ache
Where do you start an investigation?
In my experience the investigation starts with the client, resident, owner or occupant of the allegedly haunted location, obviously. They live through some thing they can not easily explain, then, at some point after initial contact with the unexplained they will reach out for advice. My advice to anyone contacting me for the first time is for them to immediately start keeping a journal of the seemingly paranormal events.
Initially, if there is no emergency situation, we ask clients to check with their physicians to rule out physical or mental conditions. We also may ask that they have their property checked for structural integrity, electrical, pest/wildlife or plumbing problems while we evaluate the situation with them and decide on a course of action. This is the time frame during which keeping the journal can be encouraged.
The journal serves multiple purposes. First, when an investigation is planned the journal is priceless information to the investigator. It gives details that no mere memory is capable of recalling when telling the story at a later date. It is the facts of the events as they occur. There is no better “eye witness” report. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, the very act of recording in the journal can have a calming, soothing effect on those experiencing paranormal happenings. It somehow normalizes the situation for them. Once they are in the habit of documenting their experiences they may be less likely to panic, their fear may not escalate to a point where an entity may feed off of their excess emotions, and it can be very stabilizing. When some thing supernatural happens the clients first thought will be getting all the pertinent facts down correctly in the journal, which leaves less time for fear, anxiety and hysterics. It can help a family that is having incidences to soothe younger members, by making it a family endeavor, a project to do together after an upsetting event that will help disperse the feelings of isolation and foster a safe place to talk about the experiences.
Last, but not least; asking new clients to keep a journal is an effective way to gauge the clients sincerity in asking for your help. If they are serious enough about finding answers to invest their time and energy into the project, it naturally helps to weed out those who are merely curious from those who are experiencing legitimate activity to those who may be more in need of attention than in help.
What should be included in the journal? Day, date, time of the occurrence, weather: temperature, humidity, dew point, heat index, wind chill, moon phase, allergy index, witnesses (name and contact information necessary), anything else you can think of at the time. Who was there? Where were they? What were they doing? Who noticed the occurrence? Did everyone there have the same experience? Ideally anyone who was there would write their experiences down and that would be added to the journal. An average entry may be as simple as:
[important]Monday, May 16, 2 pm, heard footsteps while home alone. 82 degrees, full sun, humidity 30%. [/important]
In conclusion, asking a client to keep a journal can help you determine how serious they are in searching for answers and it is the easiest, quickest way to help them control the raging panic and hysterics that those dealing with a haunting for the first time can go through. When they do decide to have an investigation the journal can be used as valuable eye-witness accounts. For the researcher it can establish patterns that will help decide if a spirit is residual or cognizant. It will show cycles that might help you in historical research, it may also help identify if there is a living catalyst for the haunting. Keeping a journal if you are experiencing a haunting is, in my opinion the single most important thing you can ask you client to do.
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.