The basis for someone to become a "ghost hunter" is the deep seated desire to prove or disprove the existence of a ghost, offer assistance to the owners of the haunted site, if any, and to help the spirit move on, if that is what he/she wishes. Services are voluntary, and no fee is ever asked for from a legitimate investigator.
Keep in mind that many of the people who will request an investigation will want to be comforted, educated and they may even want the spirits to leave. Whatever your approach or beliefs, be prepared for this and if you are not willing or cannot help the people in the way they would like, at least provide them with names of people who may help them. Also try to educate them so they understand what is occurring. After explaining what is happening to a witness, many will no longer be frightened or as concerned and you will have done them a great service. If you are a person or group that does offer more assistance through psychics, spirit rescues, etc. remember that the well being and the feelings of the living come first.
Hauntings occur with no regularity and for no particular reason. Some weird occurrences may manifest on occasion or even continually for a few days or hundreds of years; others may only occur on certain anniversaries; and others may be totally random.
It is generally assumed that hauntings involve apparitions, or ghosts, of the deceased. In fact, apparitions are seldom seen. Most hauntings involve noises like footsteps, a tapping or knocking sound, strange smells, sensations like the cold prickling of the skin, cold breezes, and the feeling of being touched by an invisible hand. Other hauntings involve poltergeist-like activity such as solid objects being moved, broken glass, doors that open and close by themselves, and manipulation of lights and electrical devices.
People who visit haunted locations also report a variety of emotions, including anger and fear. Many cases like this are mistakenly called "evil" or "demonic." Other places seem to involve friendly, or at least harmless, emotions.Poltergeist Activity
A variety of phenomena can be connected to poltergeist activity: knocking and tapping sounds, noises with no visible cause, disturbance of stationary objects like household items and furniture, doors slamming, lights turning on and off, fires breaking out, etc.
The widely accepted theory behind poltergeist phenomena is that it's usually caused by a person. This person is usually an adolescent girl who is going through an emotionally troubled time. The theory is that this person may be unconsciously manipulating the items in the house by psycho kinesis, which is the power to move things by energy generated in the brain.
Kinetic energy remains unexplained, but even mainstream scientists are starting to admit that it may exist. It is unknown why this energy appears in puberty-age girls, but it has been documented. When the activity begins to occur, the girl is usually in the middle of emotional or sexual angst. It is also possible for young boys, and even adults, to manifest this odd ability. The majority have no idea they're causing the activity.
Of course, not all hauntings can be so easily explained. In some cases, people aren't the cause of the situation. Sometimes it's possible that the source of the activity is an intelligent spirit. These entities try to make their presence known by moving objects.Residual Hauntings
This type of haunting is much more common than people realize.
The easiest way to explain this type of haunting is to compare it to an old film loop. Imagine an old movie tape is stuck in the VCR and the same clip keeps repeating itself. In locations where these hauntings take place, a powerful event or a series of events may be imprinted on the atmosphere. It can then suddenly pop up and play itself at random. But it's not necessarily visual; they are often replayed as unexplained sounds. The famous "phantom footsteps" reported in many haunted locations are a perfect example of this.
How does this kind of thing happen? The sounds and images are related to traumatic events that took place at the location, causing some sort of disturbance sometimes called a "psychic impression." This is the reason why so many battlefields have become famous for their hauntings over the years. In other situations, the images have been created by events or actions that were repeated, which caused an impression. Reputedly, that is why so many haunted staircases exist, because of the number of times people go up and down them and the amount of energy that is expended in doing so.
These kinds of haunted places act as giant storage batteries, saving up the impressions of sights and sounds from the past. As time goes by, these impressions appear again as if the VCR had been turned on. While apparitions are most commonly connected to these types of hauntings, much of the activity may be in the form of sounds, and even smells.
So, considering this type of haunting is basically an imprint in time, whatever an apparition was wearing and doing will appear the same, as if in the rewinding and replaying of a movie. As to objects, sometimes an object will carry the imprint of its owner, as the person had a deep attachment to the object, and their residual energy remains with it, but this is rare. More often though, the object has more sentimental value for the new owner if it was passed down from a loved family member, and the "ghost" attached to the object is just a pleasant memory in the new owner's mind.Portal Hauntings
The idea of a "portal" or a "doorway" to another dimension is not a new one--though it may be a wild one. These doorways may provide access for entities to enter our world. They may be the spirits of people who've died, or they could be something else altogether--perhaps otherworldly beings from another dimension? Hmmm...
One of the most common locations for these "doorways" seems to be in cemeteries. As a rule, most cemeteries are not haunted, but recently, ghost hunters have collected dozens of anomalous photographs taken in graveyards. There seems to be no explanation why many of these cemeteries would become haunted unless they provide access for spirits, or entities, to pass from one world to the next.
It is possible that these sites were "haunted" long before a cemetery was located there. It is also possible that the psychic draw of the area was what caused our ancestors to locate a cemetery there in the first place. Native Americans chose their burial grounds in this manner, although they did it consciously. They found a place to bury and honour the dead that they felt was more closely connected to the next world.Traditional or Intelligent Hauntings
This type of haunting is perhaps the most widely accepted kind of ghostly activity, although it's not as common as you might think. Here, the spirit or entity involved is an "intelligent" presence in a haunted location. It is there because of a connection to the site or to the people in the location. This ghost is best (and most simply) described as the personality of a person who once lived and who has stayed behind in our world instead of passing over to the other side.
This sometimes happens in the case of a murder, traumatic event or unfinished business. At the time of death, the spirit refuses to pass over because of these events. The spirits often linger because of emotions that tie them to the earth, from anger to love. Or perhaps the person does not pass not because they couldn't, but because they did not want to. In other cases, there is the chance the spirit does not even realize they are dead (like Patrick Swayze in Ghost). This can occur when the death is sudden.
These spirits are made up of the energy that once made up the personality of a living person. These intelligent spirits are not evil or demonic, as some would have you believe. Spirits are simply human personalities, or souls, and if the spirit was a kind and caring person in life, the spirit will most likely be in death. On the other hand, angry and cruel people will also keep those same nasty qualities as spirits. These negative spirits can be frightening, especially to people not trained in the paranormal. In very rare cases they have been able to harm the living, but that is generally not the case. It is much more common to hear of an encounter with a benevolent spirit than with a negative one. That's a relief, isn't it?
An example of this is one investigator gets a EMF reading that's high and never writes it down. Another investigator takes a picture of the same area but is not aware of the reading and gets a anomalous image. Without that EMF reading the picture may be good evidence, but with a report noting the reading, the picture greatly increases in evidence value. Many investigators use a pocket tape recorder in stead and that is fine, just make sure you have spare batteries and tapes.
Note, to have a successful investigation, you do not need to have every piece of equipment listed. Personally, I have had great results using a 35 mm camera, a thermal scanner and a tape recorder.
The Old Jail, located in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania is famous for the seven Irish laborers, called the Molly Maguires, who were hung inside the jail itself. A handprint, in cell #17, still exists to this day, even though many methods have been used to try and remove it.
I was there in April of 2002, at a Ghost Hunters' Convention, sponsored by The Philadelphia Ghost Hunters Alliance, and visited the Old Jail at 3am, with another person. Walking around the jail, you cannot help but feel the foreboding atmosphere. At one point, near the rear of the jail, I felt such deep despair, that I needed to leave that particular area.
Fort Mifflin is another historic site which the The Philadelphia Ghost Hunters Alliance offers overnight investigations of. I was lucky enough to go there twice, once in winter, once in summer, so I was able to conduct the investigations under completely different conditions.
The picture below is an example of a "false positive". As I was taking photos, someone directed a flashlight beam in the area I was photograhing without giving any warning. Anyone not familiar with energy orbs would swear the lighted object on the wall was indeed, an orb.....proof of a ghost, but this is, in fact, untrue.
My own home, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, is also home to two spirits. One day, around dusk, I noticed a figure standing by the shed, a dark figure, female, in a long dress, but she was a dark solid, a shadowy figure. I have a garden around that shed, and working in the garden the next day, I started to ask questions. When I asked, "What is your name?", I heard in my mind, "Emmy". I did some research on the house, finding out that, before the house I live in was built in 1956, the area was a farm. In the area I had my garden, one of the women who lived on that farm also had a garden there......her name was Emily Marie Esbenshade, and she died in 1958 which is also the year that I was born.
Below is a photo taken near the shed in my yard. Now I cannot rightfully say that the orb is the ghostly energy of Emily Marie, as we have another spirit who resides with us. His name is Walter R. Rice Jr., who committed suicide in the basement, by shooting himself, and he left a note, on the door leading to the basement, to his wife, saying, "Don't go downstairs, call the police." He was born on September 18, 1930 and died on January 15, 1989, and I purchased the house on my birthday, December 26, 1990.