Mark Joyner Guest columnist
September 5, 2013
Part 1 of 2
Lights flicker on and off, strange rapping’s can be heard at a window at night and the family pet gets nervous when entering a certain room. But does all of this mean your home is haunted? Does this fit the profile of a haunted house? Not exactly, but before you try to look for proof your home is inhabited by ghosts or spirits, the first thing to do is make sure that it isn’t.
“One of the things is to rule out logical things like is there a problem with the electrical wiring? The plumbing? Do we have a possibility of animals up in the attic or the basement? Are there tree branches hitting the home and does the home have a history?” explained Billy Edwards, a paranormal investigator of 8 years and Founder of Southern Paranormal Society NC Roseboro, NC. “What I mean by that is, (have) there been any murders, suicides or natural deaths that might have occurred in the home? These are the most important things that I look for and before I would even consider a home being haunted. A lot of these things have to be ruled out.”
Once this has been done and there’s still a good chance there’s a haunting taking place, Edwards added that evidence can be obtained to verify this. “It is possible to obtain evidence. This is why we go in and we do our investigations. We set up cameras, we do audio recordings and we do several other sorts of things to be able to find out our evidence and we look at our evidence to see if we have anything that is legit that we might possibly base our investigation on.” Edwards noted that certain indicators would point to the possibility of a home being haunted, such as “if we picked up something (on) the video cameras or if we were there and witnessed something happening in the home – lights going on and off, appliances going on and off – or that we were able to detect that there might be hot spots or cold spots in the home that were not logically proven out or we couldn’t find a source why they were happening.”
“I basically have the opinion that anything is possible,” said Tina Joyner (Founder of Night Whispers Paranormal Investigators Clinton, NC) “I always try to keep an open mind. All of us in the paranormal investigative arena are trying to obtain scientific proof of a haunting or that an area is inhabited by spirit. We are in search of that one fantastic photograph or video of an apparition that cannot be discounted. However, I find that EVP (electronic voice phenomena) (is) very convincing, especially when one gets a direct answer to a question that the investigator is asking.
Billy Edwards is cautious about calling his evidence “proof.” “It is possible to obtain information such as abnormal EMF readings or temperature changes that cannot be traced to a natural source, however that does not mean proof of a haunting,” he said. “We can say that the scientific data obtained is consistent with data obtained in places reported to be haunted.
Entering the world of paranormal investigation can be daunting. To a layperson with no prior experience with the paranormal or who is skeptical of the existence of spiritual entities, the prospect of taking it upon themselves to look for proof that their home is being haunted can raise questions about whether doing so would be wise. One of these questions is whether one should possess an extensive knowledge on paranormal investigating or if any special equipment will be needed for the job. As to whether a person looking for proof their home is haunted should be an expert on this subject, Joyner is skeptical. “Personally, I do not feel that there is such a thing as an expert in this field of study. After all, how can one be an expert on the unknown?” she said. “There can only be the experienced investigator.” As for what equipment will be needed, Joyner advised one very important tool: “One MUST possess common sense first and foremost. An open mind is also essential.” Edwards added, “You really don’t need to be an expert but it does help if you have the availability and the resources at hand to be able to work with people that have been experienced in the field. One of the best ways to learn how to do investigations and document things is to work with people that have been in the field for a while.
Edwards is sure to point out that, while no one can really be an authority on the unknown, there is some kind of knowledge that a layperson should possess before they embark on their own investigating. “In order to use the data found as evidence of a haunting you must be knowledgeable of all equipment being used and the proper way to use it. You must understand the science behind the findings such as understanding what an electromagnetic field is, what is normal and what is not, and how conditions in the environment (besides ghosts) may affect readings and/or instruments used.”
While not the last word on discovering whether a home can be haunted or not, instruments used by paranormal investigators to determine if a home is haunted can definitely be helpful. A woman may notice furniture moving around and voices in another room then say that her home is haunted. “An open mind can be used in place of all equipment in order to prove a haunting to yourself. Sensitive people can see, feel or communicate with spirits and no EMF reading or photograph is needed to prove it if you truly believe,” Susan Marie Benjamin said. Joyner added, “I rely on my personal all-over feeling about the area/place. My own intuition can normally tell me a lot.” Still, the readings and visual recordings provided by equipment can serve as scientific data that a haunting may be taking place. “The equipment is necessary to document any findings if possible,” Joyner said. “NWPI & SPSNC uses a night shot video recorder, various cameras, (digital,) as well as digital recorders attached to a very sensitive external microphones. We also have various instruments that can measure electromagnetic fields and temperatures.” Besides such equipment, Edwards noted that the most basic of tools are a good idea to use in investigating whether or not a house can be haunted. “If it was a person that lives in the home and they’re suspicious that there might be something there, a lot of times I recommend to people to document the different things that are occurring in the home. Keep a journal on the things that are happening. Also, I recommend that they let a tape recorder run in different areas of the home if they are hearing voices coming from certain areas and not to ask questions or to provoke anything in there. Just let it run.”
While keeping in mind what they should do in searching for proof that a house can be haunted, the investigators pointed out important things a person should NOT do. “One thing to be very cautious of when you go in to do an investigation, in the beginning stages of this, a lot of times we might not know what we are exactly dealing with so I always suggest that you never go in and start provoking, asking a lot of questions of the spirit that’s in the house or any type of communication until you’re pretty sure on what you’re dealing with,” Edwards said. “A lot of times, when people get involved with this type of work and they go in and they try to communicate, clear a home, the entities within the home can attach to them and they start to have major paranormal problems. I’ve dealt with a lot of people over the years that have done this and it ended up scaring them so bad that they never did any further investigations.”
Edwards offered the following tips: “Always ask for protection from your spirit guide to guard you against harm, just in case you may be dealing with a not-so-pleasant entity. Watch who you trust for advice, especially if they are charging you in some way. (There are many scammers in this field.) Find a good reputable group to give you some pointers, and never ever do your investigation alone.”
Anyone watching a movie where a character decides to be the hero in facing an entity haunting their home by pulling out an Ouija board or demanding that the spirit do something to prove they are there would see the next thing certain to happen: A negative, even harmful, result taking place. This is, unfortunately, one of the most common things an inexperienced person would try to do in establishing proof their home is haunted and definitely something that should be avoided. “People should know that using Ouija boards or séances to try to prove there is a spirit present can lead to some big problems,” Edwards said. “Using these tools can call some undesirable entities into the area and they can be pretty hard to get rid of sometimes.” As for using material gleaned from books or the Internet, the investigators offer words of caution. “You must be extremely cautious when reading different things in books or on the Internet,” Joyner said. “There is a tremendous amount of information out there today that has gotten people into a lot of serious situations. The one thing I always try to recommend is to try to associate yourself with people who have been in this field and they can teach you things to understand how to protect yourself and what to do if you get yourself into a situation that is a very, very serious haunting.” This doesn’t mean what you read in books or on sites such as the Shadowlands should be ignored. Joyner noted that “there is good information out there” people can learn from, yet the best option is to learn and work with an experienced paranormal investigator before taking on the task of searching for proof that a house is haunted. Joyner validated this reasoning when she noted: “As with anything else, if you do not know what you are doing, you would be wise to ask someone with experience.”
(See Part 2 of Paranomal Chat, including options available, in Friday’s edition of The Sampson Independent)