Unusual ways to hunt ghosts!
In this article I hope to show any would-be ghost hunters out there, that you don't need to be a technical genius, or spend thousands of pounds on expensive professional equipment in order to seek out evidence of the paranormal, of course it helps! but not everyone is in the position to do so.
I'd encourage you to look around your home, you'd be surprised at how many every day items could potentially be useful in an investigation. Of course none of these methods listed here are particularly scientific, and fans of data gathering and statistical analysis won't be too enthused by the idea of straying from the textbook. However I feel that in this age of technology we may have lost touch with the use of our own senses when it comes to paranormal investigation...not to mention our sense of humour!
The ideas here will not be for everyone. Some will be downright impractical, and others will seem foolish, but the idea is to demonstrate that you don't always need to be seduced by high tech gadgets used on popular TV shows if you simply want to have fun, hunt ghosts and maybe even have a few scares and unexplainable experiences along the way.
If I were a spirit and could choose to communicate with the living, I would much rather interact with someone who doesn't take themselves too seriously and is open to a variety of techniques than a tech-bore!
With that said I should point out that yes, we do use technical equipment in our studies and investigations, and with some success. But we always look to compliment these with simple, cheap techniques. In our line of work you never know when you could find yourself in a situation in someones home where you suddenly want to ask "is there anybody there?", and no, believe it or not I don't walk around with a K2 meter in my pocket 24/7.
So now let's look at just a few examples of things we can try that don't involve the usual methods.
If you have any other ideas (and I'm sure you will) please feel free to let us know.
Babies are surprisingly well equipped to be ghost hunters!
I hadn't considered the possibilities until I had children of my own. 3 years ago our baby daughter was asleep in her cot one night, when at around 9.20pm her lullaby light projector suddenly came on. We heard it through the monitor. I went upstairs, she was sound asleep, and so it puzzled me as you had to press a large button on the front to activate it, or use the remote control (shown opposite).
I switched it off and left the room. 5 minutes later the same thing happened. I went back in and this time I bought the player out of the room, assuming it was the batteries. The next day I changed them and put it back in her room. Quite to our surprise, at 9.20pm that night...you've guessed it, it began playing. I began to feel a bit creeped and took the player downstairs.
The next night, at around 10pm my daughter began crying in her sleep. I am convinced that through the monitor I heard a very low, quiet "shh". My daughter stopped crying. I raced upstairs and bursting into her room, there was no-one there. Of course there wasn't. Various things happened over the following weeks and at 2am one morning, when one of my daughters rattles had been making a noise (from the other side of the room!) I stormed in the nursery and asked aloud for whoever was visiting her to please go away. I assumed later that someone was just keeping an eye on her, maybe a deceased relative, I've no idea, but it got me thinking about how I could use some of this equipment in different ways.
The Motorola camera and monitor shown here is the same one we use however the newer MBP36/2 model is even better for ghost hunters as is wireless and comes with 2 cameras.
It's wonderful as you can pan across the room, zoom in and out, check the rooms temperature (another great ghost hunting aid!) and of course it has night vision/infrared. What's not to love in terms of ghost hunting? Well it does require an electricity source of course, so using it in old castle ruins won't be an option, but for most locations, it's a great piece of kit.
Of course you don't have to spend that kind of money to get great results, or at least have fun trying, with other baby equipment. The Vtech monitor I mentioned is an interesting one. It reacts to either touch or sound, so for example if baby cries during the night it will begin playing, or for the ghost hunter, if a sound is detected in a locked off room - bingo! it will begin playing to alert you. Maybe you might find that a curious spirit even tries to play with it, or inadvertently sets off the light show! If it does go off once left in a room, you don't need to go back in to reset your 'tech', simply use the handy remote to switch it back off again.
Along the same line, there are hundreds of motion activated childs toys on the market - why fork out for an expensive motion detector when you can spend £12.99 on the 'Mint Toys Crazy Kat' which is motion activated and we've found to be highly sensitive. Ok, maybe it won't look as sophisticated as the professional kit, but for the average amateur ghost hunter, who just wants to have fun and experience something unexplained, it could prove really interesting (and a little un-nerving especially in the dead of night if it starts it's creepy meow!)
Other obvious choices while still considering baby items are things with bells on, rattles...basically anything that makes noise. Lay some out as trigger objects, position a camera on them and wait. If you do hear any noises you will hopefully have some evidence on film. (remember at this point, being a ghost hunter can be tedious. You could try experiments like this 1000 times and maybe get 1 strange thing happen...but you never know when).
Banana Pendulum stand
Anyone who follows our Facebook page may have heard me talking about this before. Obviously not everyone is keen to try the more spiritual approach of divination, but for those who are interested, this is useful. I stumbled across this when my own pendulum stand broke and I needed a quick fix. I was looking around the home for something to use instead, when I had what is known as a light bulb moment.
Banana hangers do everything (more or less) you need a pendulum stand to do.
If you are using a metal one, maybe write YES and NO on a piece of paper to place underneath your pendulum, If you have a wooden one like the one shown here then it's even better as you can write or engrave YES and NO onto the base and create your own unique stand.
Cost? About £3.00, sometimes less.
Get your minds out of the gutter, no I don't mean that.
The Theory of Familiarisation, often referred to as The Singapore Theory involves trying to recreate the environment, or a part of the environment, of a specific era during an investigation in an attempt to stimulate paranormal activity. It's not a new idea amongst investigators, but is something both novice and experienced ghost hunters can try. The theory, in part, is based on familiarization, believing that if spirits occupying the location recognize the environment or something positive within it, they will become active and possibly show themselves in some form. When visiting an RAF base for example, you could dress in 1940s attire and play music from the period, or how about medical attire, e.g., scrubs and lab coats, when investigating an abandoned hospital or clinic? Be creative.
As ghost hunters we often get hung up on gaining visual evidence on camera. Orbs, shadows, thermal anomalies and so on. But if we wind it all back a notch, and look at some back to basics methods we would find that talcum powder has been used for many years by investigators, including Harry Price.
It can be sprinkled across the floor in an attempt to catch footprints (how cool would that be!?) used to form a circle around a trigger object, or maybe sprinkle some inside a picture frame, lay it flat on the table and see if during the course of an investigation, any spirits decide to leave a mark in it.
Another use is as a wind detector, so maybe when conducting baseline tests, rather than by expensive equipment, simply run a line of talc along an area to check for draughts. Multi functional, albeit a bit messy!
Put the kettle on
I wonder if spirits are tempted by a lovely cup of tea and a biscuit? Probably not.
I’m thinking more along the lines of steam. While not very scientific, you can still have fun experimenting with the various uses of steam during a paranormal investigation. In much the same way as talc, steam or condensation can be used to request and maybe even observe signs from the spirit word. Why not steam up a mirror and ask aloud for any spirits present to leave you a message, or a handprint. While it’s unlikely, you never know. The same could be done using a picture frame, especially if the photograph inside is of the person you’re trying to contact or one of their loved ones. You could also try leaving the shower running on hot so that the bathroom steams up. There are theories around the ability of water to conduct and attract spirit energy (Richard Felix has in the past joked about making a 'Haunted Toilets' DVD as he'd had so many reports!) so bathrooms may well be a good place to ghost hunt! Be inventive.
Go to sleep
I’ve lost count of the amount of people over the years who have relayed stories to me relating to what they believe to be dream visitations.
There is some evidence to support the theory that when we sleep, our brains enter a more ‘accessible’ state for spirit or higher energy communication. Anything’s worth a go right? The best way to do this is to keep a notepad and pen next to your bed. Before you go to sleep spend time focusing on connecting to the spirit world. Some people light a single candle, concentrate on the flame and allow themselves to feel completely relaxed. Others meditate or listen to binaural beats.
Whatever you prefer, just get yourself in the right frame of mind i.e. relaxed and open. Before you nod off, ask aloud for any spirits present to visit you while you sleep. Give them permission. If you awake in the night and feel you’ve been visited, or have been shown images or have received messages, write it all down as much as you can remember.
Do this regularly and you may find a pattern emerging. You can also use your notes as a basis for future tests, for example if a name keeps entering your dreams, ‘speak’ to that person during other investigations and see if you get anything, or if you believe you are being shown a specific place, try to identify it and go there!
Get a pet
Ok, so this might seem a bold move if you’ve never had pets before, and it may be totally impractical, but those who do have cats or dogs (these seem especially alerted to spirit activity) have often reported their pets behaving strangely, and in a way that makes them feel there may be someone else in the room.
When I was about 14 we had a cat named Tilly. She was actually a He but that’s another story. Sometimes he would stare into the corner of the room for ages without moving a muscle. It was like he was staring at someone or something.
His fur would stand on end and sometimes he would growl and hiss, then suddenly he would simply walk away. It was always the same corner. If you already have a cat or a dog try involving them in an investigation. A cat may be particularly tricky but mans best friend will probably follow commands more readily. Allow them to sit with you while you ask for signs of spirits.
Monitor their behaviour, and assess whether or not they have became agitated, uneasy or focused on one area of the room specifically. Of course there can be other reasons for a cat staring directly in one place for a long time. They may have seen a spider scuttle past, and be waiting for a 2nd opportunity to pounce. But then again…
On the subject of pets, like babies they too have a few bits and bobs the ghost hunter can make use of. LED balls for example. Many of these are motion activated, a way of giving pets an exciting reaction when they tap them. As such they make great little inexpensive motion detectors during investigations, especially given that most investigations take place in darkness. It can be really exciting to suddenly see a light show occurring in one area, even better if more than one goes off at the same time, or you pick up other changes at the same time (room temperature fluctuations for example – but of course rule out draughts as possible cause for both!).
These little toys can be purchased for as little as 60p.
Leave food as offerings
At this point you may well be thinking we’ve entered the realm of the crazy. But please stick with me. In Theravada Buddism there is a theory around “hungry ghosts” known as “Preta”, and even hold a "Hungry Ghost Festival" on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month in their calendar. The scriptures tell of spirits hanging around street corners and peoples homes looking for sustainance. Now of course, to the logical mind this throws up all kinds of practical issues. How does something non physical EAT food being one. However, it is traditional for Theravadins to follow the advice of the scriptures and leave out offerings in the hope that wandering souls may be attracted.“Then let him give alms to the dead, mindful of past benefits”.
With this in mind, you could create a small shrine like area with a small variety of nibbles. How thrilling would it be to find a spirit had visited and reinvigorated themselves by indulging in a few peanuts!
Another strange tradition, but one that holds strong in Japan relates to whistling, specifically at night. It is believed that to whistle late at night is to encourage or summon spirits into your home. It is also a belief in Korea and in Turkey people also warn against whistling at night as the believe it can also summon the Devil.
This one is great, as it's so simple but atmospheric!
We often ask questions aloud when looking for signs from the spirit world, or ask for them to 'make themselves known", and using a candle while doing this can be a great and cost effective technique. Simply light a candle in a dimly lit room and ask questions. It's best to be clear about what you are hoping for initially so say something like "If there are any spirits in the room, please use your energy to move the candles flame, maybe even blow it out!". Then proceed to ask questions and look out for a flicker as a possible YES response!
(of course you will need to do a few tests prior to embarking on this to establish where your draughts may come from, and also be aware of how closely you, or those with you are sitting to the candle - you could easily be manipulating it, knowingly or unknowingly)
Thanks to Lee Steer of Paranormal Magazine for reminding us of this technique!
Keep up with Lee's various paranormal projects here: www.paranormal-magazine.com
Do you know any other cheap, easy and little used methods of communicating with spirits?
LET US KNOW!
If we publish them here they will be credited to you...of course!