Respect In Ghost Hunting
The night of my first investigation, my adrenaline was pumping. You know the feeling. Couldn’t wait to try all the things you have learned. Maybe feel a cold spot or even see a ghost. I sat through six weeks of classes where I listened to a group of people discuss all the adventures during other investigations. Now it was my turn. By the end of the night, disappointment settled in. Don’t get me wrong, the investigation turned out to be everything I expected. And we got plenty of orb pictures, but any respect I did have disappeared completely.
Before I took the ghost hunting class, I heard a huge amount of information about the group. I believed these people were expert ghost hunters. They were teaching classes to people. During my classes, I noticed they seemed more interested in chatting with their own members, who were plentiful in each class, then getting to know the people attending the class. They discussed clients in unfavorable ways. Basically, they never came across as professional people and the respect disappeared. The night of the investigation, I realized everything they taught us wasn’t even used. They relied on one person and the rest of us were back up. The only people who got respect were the chosen few.
Lucky for me, another member and the one who got me into the class to begin with, decided to go out on her own and asked me to be the co-director. Once we began to get more members, I wanted them to know how important respect is in ghost hunting.
Whether you are a beginner or a fifty year veteran with an actual ghost siting under your belt, if you don’t have respect, you will not be considered a professional by clients or other ghost hunters.
The first and biggest step is having respect in yourself and your abilities. Which can be tough with someone just starting out.
A ghost hunter knows their limits. Knowing both your physical and emotional limits and letting your team know them, will allow your group to understand what is happening with you.
Does a certain room make you feel uneasy? Do you prefer to use only an EMF detector and not any cameras? What about that one person in the group who always knows how to push your buttons? Do you want to give up ghost hunting because of that? Or leave it go until finally you blow up and cause a scene in the middle of an investigation where you embarrass not only yourself but the entire group?
Everyone understands that there is certain times when you just can’t handle a certain person or a certain situation. Talking with your team leader will allow them to respect not only you, but your wishes as well. They can come up with some type of solution to solve the problem in the future or just the one time.
We all have difficult times in our lives. I’ve recently suffered a close personal lose in my life. And the follow Saturday we had an investigation. I went on the investigation with my co-director knowing the situation. I didn’t have to go on this investigation. I went for my own reasons. It was something I made a promise to do. I also made a promise to myself to leave if my emotions got in the way of the investigation. A few times, I had to get a handle on myself because my emotions got overwhelmed, but I stayed with the investigation. And actually it was one of our best investigations in a long while. Things like this happen. Allowing your group to know, helps not only them, but you. You begin to see how important you are to the group. And boy does that increase your respect in yourself.
Your feelings are your most powerful tools in a ghost investigation. Use them and share them with your group. Don’t be afraid and hide them inside.
You’ve worked on gaining respect in yourself. Now you need to gain the respect from your team. How do you do that? You need to gain their trust.
We had a team member who constantly tried to do things behind our backs and when we found out about it, we no longer could work with that individual. This person didn’t believe he needed to be honest and follow our guidelines. If we were to go to a location that was possibly demonic, that entity would play on that lack of trust and the situation could become dangerous for all involved.
You always need to know that the people you work with would “have your back” if something were to happen. One thing I always observe when we are meeting with potential members is how I feel around them. If I’m uneasy or don’t get a good “vibe” I will express this when we discuss it as a group. It doesn’t necessarily mean the person is out. But we take it into consideration.
A ghost hunting team becomes a family. Our group is constant communication and not just about ghost hunting. We have become friends. You have got to have that trust to get this close. And it didn’t happen instantly. Some of our newer members haven’t reached this point yet. But I’m sure after a few more investigations they will too. We are a close knit circle and it is needed in a profession that can be dangerous.
You receive a call from someone practically in tears because everything is going crazy in their house. After talking to them for over an hour, you set up an investigation and then hang up the phone. This client deserves respect more than anyone. They invite complete strangers into their homes and business.
Confidentiality becomes a heavy topic. Some people don’t want the fact that they believe their homes are haunted known to the whole world. Mine saying goes, “What happens at the site, stays at the site until permission is given otherwise.” Even then, we usually stay pretty low key about a private residence. Not too many people want knocks on their doors in the middle of the night by people wanting to see their ghosts.
You also have to respect the fact that people will be scared by what is happening. Most people believe anything with ghosts are dangerous, and to even joke about the house being demonic could cause a panic. An investigation is not time to review the current horror film or horror novel. It is time to act professional. The only exception is if you personally know the people and they are relaxed about the situation.
We’ve done investigations at members houses and they have been fun. We are relaxed and ourselves. We basically through our serious side out of the window. We conduct the investigation by guidelines, but we joke and laugh. These times can be fun, but they need to be held with people you know.
Don’t forget that you need to respect the property. Snooping through their things, leaving trash, making comments about the house, is all things which can cause the client to ask you to leave. And give the group and yourself a bad reputation. The people who contact ghost hunters give you an immense amount of trust. Try to remember this in any investigation you go to.
Although this may sound odd, I also believe you need to respect the dead themselves. Try to think in terms of how you would want to be treated if you were a ghost. To me, this always brings to mind my biggest pet peeve about people who stand on graves. You can ask anyone in my family and they will tell you how much this disturbs me. All I can think is being the person buried and having someone step on my face.
I have been to investigations where an investigator will yell at the believed ghosts at the house, especially if the ghosts are believed to be children. I’m sorry, but why would anyone want to speak with or make themselves know to someone who yells at them.
I’ve read that you should ask the spirits permission to photograph them. To me this is part of respecting them. We don’t walk up to a stranger and just snap their picture. At least I don’t. Just because a ghost is dead doesn’t mean they are human people. Let them get to know you. Let them see you aren’t there to harm them or the location. And you never know just what you will get.
Besides the respect for the ghosts, you also have to have a degree of respect for the paranormal and for ghost hunting. People who are only out for money or to have a hobby that is popular at the time, causes more harm to our profession than good. They are the people you usually hear about when people discuss the paranormal. It gives all of us a bad name.
Our group does classes and presentations all for free. We accept donations, but never charge for anything we do. But we know people who won’t even talk with people about their situation without money. To me, this is wrong.
There is a little joke in our group about ghostbusters. Whenever someone walks up to my co-directors and says, “So you’re a ghostbuster?” she automatically goes into the speech about the difference between a ghostbuster and a ghost hunter. And inside I laugh. Only because of how serious she is about it, and how bewildered the people look afterwards, but in all honestly, ghost hunting isn’t a respected profession because of the “ghostbuster” titled.
I have only heard of a few actually groups that claim they cleanse a location, and they also are the groups that charge money for their services. But they continue to be the groups that people associate with ghost hunters so when they see something about a ghost investigations, they instantly think about Bill Murrary against Slimer.
Television shows such as Ghost Hunters on SciFi is helping, but not enough. So, maybe you would like to know exactly what we tell people who call us ghostbusters? Here it is:
“Ghostbusters remove ghosts from a locations. Ghost hunters investigate the location and try to prove or disprove the existence of the reported phenomenon. We never cleanse or remove a ghost from a location.”
To me, respect in yourself, your team, the client, the ghost, and finally ghost hunting itself are the most important things anyone interested in becoming a ghost hunter needs to know. Of course there is the usual equipment use and rules, but if you don’t have the respect, you won’t have a team to work with.
© Beverly A. Rearick 2007
(Published in Haunted Times Magazine)