Here's a condensed version the most popular procedures for conducting outdoor ghost hunts:
1. Have everyone meet near the location and decide who will work each piece of equipment and divide into teams if necessary. Pick a person or leader that will talk to anyone who comes in contact with the group (i.e. Police, Reporters, etc.)
2. Enter the site and either privately or as a group ask for blessing or protection for the duration of the hunt. YOu can use this time to put yourself in a positive frame of mind. It does not have to be a religious thing so everyone can do this in some way. I do encourage everyone to take the 10 seconds this takes and do this. What can it hurt? It's better to be safe than sorry. Many experienced groups believe that there are evil spirits in many areas such as cemeteries and by saying a 10 second prayer or making sure you are in a positive frame of mind you can safely go about your business without worrying about them. An experienced demonologist will tell you that by doing this in the name of God or whatever good deity you worship, you will keep any non human spirits at bay since they have to leave you alone when told so in this manner. The prayers I use are found here.
3. Walk around the area to get a feel for the surroundings and allow the spirits to get a feel for you. Do this for about 20 minutes. Log in your start time and weather conditions and any other relevant information. You can also begin to set up any stationary equipment like camera on tripods or motion detectors. Make note of any areas that may cause you to get false readings or false positive pictures.
4. Now go out there and get some pictures and recordings. Be sure to note anything unusual that happens especially meter and temperature readings, visual sightings and strange sounds. Also make notes of any feelings or emotions you feel that may be odd or out of place. You can compare notes after the hunt and look for similarities in readings and feeling in certain areas or at certain times.
5. Whether you stake out a spot or you walk around try to give everyone the opportunity to try everything and be everywhere. This keeps every one fresh and at attention. Rotate a few times during the investigation.
6. When you are done have everyone meet in one spot and ask the human spirits here not to follow you home and to remain here. Tell the others they must remain here in the name of God (or other good deities). Again this takes 4 seconds, it's simple and it can save you some problems down the road. If we are wrong about these prayers at the beginning and end of the hunt and they are not necessary then you wasted 14 seconds of your time. If we are right about them, you saved yourself from allot of problems and grief.
Some additional steps for a house or building ghost hunt/investigation
* Every investigator or team should keep a log of events/times - everything needs to be logged, not matter how trivial. You sneeze, log it in, it may have sounded like something else to another member elsewhere in the building.
* All members and owners if possible, walk through the location. One members map location noting: air vents, heater, electrical appliances, fuse boxes, computer, etc. Mark down the temperatures in the rooms and any EMF reading you get during this walk through. One member take 5-10 test photos during the walk through. Do not discuss the details of the case during this walk through.
* Any witnesses that have not been interviewed before should be interviewed by 1-2 investigators and taped/videoed if it's ok with the witness. The other members should walk around the location and record any feelings or observations. Only the interviewers will know the location of events and sightings.
* Make no conclusions. Share no conclusions or opinions with the witnesses or owners until all the reports, photos and tapes are reviewed. You need to see the evidence and correlate it before you can give an educated opinion.
Make sure you note any other lights in the area so when you view your developed pictures you will not think a street light is an orb.
* Make sure you clean your camera's lens regularly.
* no smoking at the location, this can appear like mist on the photos so you don't want to contaminate your evidence.
* Watch for dust or dirt being stirred up in the area you are photographing. They can give false positive pictures.
* All long hair should be tied back or under a hat, again this is to eliminate any false positive pictures and to give the skeptics less ammunition.
* Remove or tie up any camera straps so you don't take a picture of that, it looks like a vortex when photographed.
* Don't bother with your cameras viewfinder. Hold the camera out in front of you and aim at the area you want to take a picture of. Many newer digital cameras do not even come with view finders. This also helps in cold weather by keeping your camera away from your breath.
* Watch for reflective surfaces and make notes of them. The flash reflected off shiny surfaces such as windows, polished tombstones, etc. can look light an orb or other anomaly. Make note of street lights and any other light source that may appear on the film.
* Let fellow investigators know when you are taking a photo so that you don't get double flashes and the night scope operators can look away. If you think you have a double flash photo or any other false positive, log the picture number so you can exclude that photo from the batch when they are developed. Night scope operators can get eye damage if they are looking at a flash through the scope so this is important.
* In cold weather be conscious of your breath so you don't photograph that, it'll look like ectoplasm mist. If you think you may have, log that picture number and discard it when you develop the pictures.
* Many people like to ask the spirit if they can take their picture , it can't hurt.
* Take pictures anywhere and everywhere. If you feel some thing or someone else does, take a picture. Did you think you saw something, take a picture. Take photos whenever you get a positive readings on any piece of equipment.
* Sometimes you will see an orb, mist or sparkles in your flash or others flashes, take more pictures right there, you may be near a spirit.
* You may only get about 1- 2 pictures for every 50 you take, that's about the average, so don't get discouraged. I've been at sites where I didn't get any and others where 30% of the ones we took were positive.
* Don't pay for fancy developing , you can get them developed anywhere. Just let them developers know to process and print every photo. I use the local discount stores photo service.
Saint Michael the Archangel, Defend us in battle Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil May God rebuke him, we humbly pray And do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, By the power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all evil spirits
Who wander through the world for the ruin of souls.
"In the name of Jesus Christ, I command all human spirits to be bound to the confines of the cemetery. I command all inhuman spirits to go where Jesus Christ tells you to go, for it is He who commands you."
Audio and Video Recording
* You can set up stationary recorders and just let them run or you can walk around with them. During audio recording, ask questions whether general ones or one specific to a certain spirit. You can find a few ideas of question on or near the gravestones (i.e. how did you die, ask who left flowers, etc.)
* Make sure you view or listen to the whole tape. EVPs are usually not heard at the time of recording but are heard only after the tape is reviewed.
* Review notes where you should have recorded any normal sounds as well as unexplained ones (dogs barking, cars, etc.) This way you can tell what a sound is that wasn't heard by you at the time but is now on the tape.
Where to Look
These are some places you can start your ghost hunting at. These are suggestions and you should not limit yourself to just these, spirits can be anywhere. Don't let the age of a building or area fool you. The house I lived in for 29 years which had ghostly activity in for 26 years is only 70 years old but it is built on land that was settled and lived on in 1685. Also, remember, do not trespass.
* Cemeteries - The age of the cemetery doesn't matter but the older it is, the more time it has had to accumulate restless spirits. Why cemeteries? Well there are theories such as they are portals to the other side or that some spirits are drawn to their former bodies.
* Schools - Schools and former sites of schools may have the build up of psychic energies and imprints of all the highly emotional events that have transpired there.
* Theaters - The actors have run the gambit of human emotions inside the walls of a theater plus many have interesting hauntings attached to them.
* Battlefields - These are great locations simply because of their nature. Many violent deaths in one area will always hold some spirits and psychic energy there.
* Churches - There is a long history of the faithful returning to the church they worshipped at. They may be looking for the salvation they were promised and cannot find.
* Hotels/Motels/Boarding houses - Many dark dealing and highly emotional events take places in these rooms.
* Historic Locations - Many historic buildings, because of their age, have had more time to have spirits attach to it. These buildings are often open the public and can give you a easy place to start. Many even have known histories of hauntings and you may be able to gain access to the building after hours after speaking with the caretakers.
* Books on Local Haunted Places - This what I used at first to get into some places. They let an author publish the fact the place is haunted so there is a chance they may allow you in to take a look.
* If it is is raining, snowing or foggy and you are scheduled to do an out door ghost hunt, reschedule it. You cannot conduct a proper investigation in these conditions.
* Keep an open mind, any negative feelings may drive the spirits away. Be respectful of the locations and the dead.
* Be skeptical, look for causes for any phenomenon such as natural or man made causes. As an investigator you have to make sure your final evidence will stand up to scrutiny. By eliminating all other explanations, your evidence becomes stronger proof.
* No smoking, alcohol or drugs at an investigation for mostly obvious reasons.
* No whispering, it can taint your recording results.
* The Tax Assessors Office can give you historical info on many locations you visit.
* Do not wear perfume, cologne or anything else with a very noticeable scent. This is so someone does not mistake the smell for a supernatural occurrence. Spirits often use scents and smells to get our attention.
* Make sure you let someone know where you will be so they will know in case of emergency.
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.
As with most of the page in the Shadowlands, this one will rely on others to help it grow. So if you have a tip, procedure or suggestion to add let me know. I am counting on the more experienced investigators out there to assist us here so we can all share the info and further this field of study in a professional and respectable manner.