I am often asked by people, do you believe in ghosts? For me that is actually a really complicated question. First you have to define what a ghost is etc and then the conversation just kind of snowballs with my thoughts on different topics and the person wishes they never asked me that question and slowly backs away. In simple terms, I believe there is something happening. It is the 'what is happening?' that I can't answer. I can sit here all day and write about the different possibilities of every single scenario ranging from what it could be spiritually to what natural causes it could be or how our mind can trick us into thinking something is there. That is what my blog is all about. Presenting to you the different possibilities of what it is that it could be. While these are all possibilities, I don't know the definitive absolute answer. No one does. That is why we are searching for answers. I can't sit and pretend to know things that I don't, it isn't who I am. We know that our belief systems influence how we sit on this matter and even our own personal experiences have a part to play as well. While we 'believe' we know what is happening, we actually don't 'know'.
I was asked the thought provoking question last week if the path my research has taken me down has 'ruined' my paranormal investigation experience as I am a lot more analytical now and looking at a lot of different paths that swerve from the traditional mainstream of thinking when it comes to 'what is a ghost?'. In the early days, I embraced everything whole heartedly and just went with the flow and whatever happened happened. I certainly got scared, I got a rush and I felt like almost every week I was having intelligent communication with what I thought to be spirits of people who were once living. I had a lot of what you would call 'personal experiences'. First of all, after I educated myself about a lot of things, I can say I am no longer afraid of sitting in a dark room by myself which when I started out, I was afraid I was going to be attacked or thrown across a room. Yes I was not immune to this way of thinking on my very first investigation! I don't get the 'rush' much anymore because I am a lot better at questioning things than I was in the past. I think the chances of having what could be considered as genuine 'intelligent' communication was not as frequent as I used to believe. Even just understanding how equipment works and what data it is actually reading was a big influence on this as well. I now question everything before I start getting too 'involved' in looking in depth at a possible moment. I try to recreate and debunk now on the spot while everything is fresh. Most importantly, I am looking at the phenomena itself, what is happening, who it is perhaps happening too and about a dozen other factors all at the same time. I am now questioning the phenomena itself and where it could be coming from. This is the major part that has changed. It has by no means ruined the experience, but it has changed. Do I have personal experiences? Yes I do, but they aren't the same kind of experiences.
Last night I made a return to investigating after having a 4 month break due to having my hysterectomy. I felt like I was a bit rusty and wouldn't know what I was doing. Turns out it is just like riding a bike and soon I was right back into the swing of things. I didn't have one piece of equipment with me. My role was to purely from an observation point of view. I of course got involved in the investigation and wasn't just some creepy person standing in the corner with a camera but I was able to reconnect with the paranormal investigator side of myself. While I was questioning activity, there were moments I felt the heaviness of a room when I walked in. There were moments that I was unable to naturally explain (and trust me I was really trying at the time to figure it out), and there was even a moment I got scared. It was from my own reflection in the mirror so nothing paranormal but I was caught up in the moment of everything going on around me and boom. I had a good laugh afterwards, but man I can make a scary shadow figure in the dark!
Even wearing my rational hat, I can't explain everything and that is why I am here. There was one particular experience that I wanted to share and again it just really backs up a couple of things I am always saying to people. We were in the staff quarters on the second floor and the team were setting up some equipment for a vigil we were about to start. When I walked into the building I walked past a room and I heard what sounded like a banging noise. I didn't think too much of it as we were walking down the hallway so I thought our vibration was causing a window to rattle or something. As one of the team members was explaining to the group what we were going to be doing, there was the sound again. I heard it and I know he did as well by his reaction, but he kept talking. Then it came again. We stopped and asked everyone to remain silent. Lets sit and listen to the environment around us and see if we hear it again so we can work out what it is. Nothing. Soon we called out and did one of my personal favourite methods of investigation - knock once for yes and twice for no. I asked if there was anything or anyone there to make the noise again for us. There it was. It seemed to answer us a few times and then went silent. We eventually went back to what it was we were working on. As the group were doing the vigil, I went and stood quietly in the hallway just looking and listening. I heard it again. I spoke to the other investigator who heard it too and we both agreed where we thought it was coming from. I asked could it be a window rattling or something like that. So he went into that room and the surrounding rooms trying to recreate the noise by jumping around, walking, banging doors, windows etc to see if we could recreate the sound. It sounded similar to thumping the wall but we couldn't find anything that could be making the noise in that area. That of course doesn't mean something wasn't making the noise, we just couldn't find it. That brings me to my question. What is that 'something' making the noise? In the same way it could have been a natural explanation we were unable to find, could it also be the possibility that something or someone we couldn't see trying to communicate? Again the answer is I don't know but it is experiences like this that really drive me and do give me that rush and excitement and remind me why I am doing this.
The second point of mine that it backs up is that these 'events' are usually happening when you are not specifically looking for them. How many times on an investigation are you sitting around just chilling maybe having a casual conversation about what you did at work earlier that day, and suddenly it seems like something is trying to 'grab' your attention? Usually people will report their most profound paranormal experiences or sightings happen when they least expect it. It can be during the day and even happen when you aren't even on a paranormal investigation. On an investigation, we can often look too hard for something that just isn't there. By looking too hard, we start looking at patterns and start almost 'making things out of nothing'. We don't need to because, in short, stuff happens! If you have to look for it, it isn't happening. There is phenomena all around us that we cannot explain with any certainty and that is why we are here isn't it? I feel that by remembering these simple points - what is it you are looking for and why is what grounds as as investigators. Sometimes we can get a little lost on our way and either get influenced by others or go down a path we feel is almost 'expected' as a paranormal investigator. What I love about the paranormal field at the moment is that I feel now more than ever, people are really starting to question things. There are wanting to discover answers for themselves instead of relying on others. They are educating themselves and trying to think of new ways to search for these answers. While we have become very tech reliant in modern day investigating, more and more people are reverting to simpler forms of investigating.
Remember what it is you are seeking when it comes to investigating the paranormal. If you are just after a personal experience that is fantastic! They can be life changing and challenge everything you believe in. If it is you wanting to learnt the history of a location and the stories of the people that is wonderful. They are amazing people and locations and deserve to have their stories told. If you want to broaden your research and look down different paths such as parapsychology that is great too, it is a bit of a rabbit hole and cause leave with you so many more questions. We all have different goals and reasons for investigating the paranormal. I always say there is not just a one fits all solution when it comes to investigating the paranormal. You experiences and the way you feel after an investigation does change as your research path changes, but it definitely doesn't ruin it. What doesn't change is the passion and dedication you have for the field and for the pursuit of finding answers.
Have you found your experiences have changed during the time you have investigated the paranormal? Do you have more or less 'personal experiences'?